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Somerton court employee charged
A Somerton Municipal Court employee has been charged with three felonies for allegedly embezzling funds and falsifying public records.
During a brief court appearance in Yuma Justice Court, 33-year-old Rocio Corrales-Ruiz was charged with one count of fraudulent schemes and artifices, one count of theft and one count of misuse of public money.
She was arraigned before Yuma Justice of the Peace Yolonda Torok, who ordered her bond remain at $500,000, which is what it had been set at during a previous court hearing. The judge also ordered the Conflict Administrator's Office to appoint an attorney to represent her.
Corrales-Ruiz's next court date is a preliminary hearing set for 4 p.m. Sept. 1 in Yuma Justice Court.
The alleged crimes were first brought to the attention of court administration in January after a routine audit by the Administrative Office of the Courts conducted in late 2010. As a result, a lengthy investigation was conducted, which required the review of voluminous courts records and documents. The investigation eventually culminated in Corrales-Ruiz and co-defendant Enrique Rodriguez's arrests.
Rodriguez, a Yuma County Superior Court Clerk employee who is also Corrales-Ruiz's boyfriend, has been arrested on charges of facilitation, theft, fraudulent schemes and artifices and criminal liability of another.
He is scheduled to be arraigned in Yuma Justice Court Thursday afternoon. Rodriguez, who was arrested Tuesday morning, is being held on a $100,000 bond. According to court records, between 2006 and 2010, Corrales-Ruiz allegedly embezzled more than $93,000 from patrons who had come to the courthouse to pay their fines.
In February, Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch ordered control and oversight of the day-to-day operations of the Somerton Municipal Court be assumed by Yuma County Superior Court Judge Andrew Gould and that all documents and files be preserved for the ongoing investigation.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854.