Jose Sanchez-Ocampo, one of three men charged with harboring undocumented workers at four popular Mexican restaurants, is a family man who poses no threat to the community and is not a flight risk, his attorney says.
"He is not a murderer. He's not a rapist. He just makes good tacos,"his attorney, Paul Dell, told reporters Wednesday.
Sanchez-Ocampo, who appeared in federal court Wednesday, has been detained by federal authorities after prosecutors suggested he could try to flee.
Prosecutor Brian Counihan told reporters that Sanchez-Ocampo was the "right-hand man" to Sergio Mucino.
Following a two-and-a-half year investigation, prosecutors said that Mucino hired illegal immigrants to work at his restaurants, housing them in apartments nearby. They said the restaurants were bringing in $50,000 a week each but failed to report that as income for purposes of state and federal taxes. Mucino was arraigned on Tuesday and released on $85,000 bail.
U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. ordered Sanchez-Ocampo detained after prosecutors described him as a fight risk and Sanchez-Ocampo’s lawyer asked for more time to research the government’s allegations.
“He’s lived in this country for 20 years,” Dell said later. “He’s already made a life here. He’s been a law-abiding citizen.”
Dell said Sanchez-Ocampo has a wife and a daughter here and he “wants to go home to his family.”
Prosecutors tell a far different story and tried to make the case Wednesday that, because of the defendant’s status here, he may try to flee the country if released.
“This individual does not have any status in this country,” Counihan told Schroeder.
Prosecutor Brian Counihan says Sanchez-Ocampo was right hand man to restaurant owner Sergio Mucino pic.twitter.com/o6tzfCAQ5F
— Phil Fairbanks (@PhilFairbanksBN) October 19, 2016
The prosecutor indicated he was the restaurant owner’s highest-paid employee. He also was the one who paid the other workers, he said.
“He was the one who paid them in cash after cashing checks from Sergio Mucino,” Counihan told the judge.
Sanchez-Ocampo is scheduled to appear again on Friday.