DA’s Office arrests Williams school board member

On Friday, the Colusa County District Attorney’s office arrested Rosa Elia Orozco Lopez – a second-term trustee for the Williams Unified School District – on three felony charges related to lying about her place of residence as a candidate in an election. 

According to Colusa County District Attorney Matthew Beauchamp, the arrest of Orozco Lopez, 62, was the culmination of a nearly three-year investigation that was initially brought to the attention of his office by the Colusa County Grand Jury. The investigation was initiated in Orozco Lopez’s first term, before she was reelected in November 2016.

“The grand jury got some information that she did not reside in the county, and an investigation was begun in roughly May of 2015,” Beauchamp said. “(The investigation has) been going on since that period of time. There’s a number of particulars I’m not going to get into right now, but ultimately she was arrested because she does not have a residence in the (district).”

In order to be eligible for election as a Williams Unified School Board trustee, candidates are required to live within the boundaries of the district. According to Beauchamp, Orozco Lopez falsely stated that her place of residence was at a home in Williams, when she was actually living elsewhere. In conjunction with area law enforcement agencies in Sutter and Colusa counties, the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office executed search warrants at two homes on Friday, one on the 200-block of North Ninth St. in Williams and one in Yuba City. 

“(Orozco Lopez) had suggested that (the Williams home) was her residence, but really it was the residence of her father,” Beauchamp said, adding that Orozco Lopez was actually residing at the home in Yuba City.

Beauchamp said that his office had conducted some 13 search warrants related to their investigation, but that Friday’s was the first that had been conducted at Orozco Lopez’s Yuba City home. Around December 2017, investigators obtained search warrants for her social media accounts, records from the Colusa County Superior Court showed at the time. 

A call to Orozco Lopez’s last known phone came back with a message that the number was not accepting incoming calls. A call to School Board President Silvia Vaca was not immediately returned prior to publication. Williams Unified Superintendent Edgar Lampkin said on Monday that the district’s leadership was aware of the situation and aware that charges were pending and would soon be filed. 

“Obviously, this situation is still evolving. It’s never wise to make a statement on something that is still evolving,” Lampkin said, adding that as the situation develops and things become more clear, the district would be able to provide further comment. 

Orozco Lopez was booked into the Colusa County Jail at 9 AM on Friday, and posted $15,000 bail by 4 PM, Colusa County Jail Sgt. Arnoldo Navarro said. She is set to appear in the Colusa County Superior Court on May 1 at 12:30 PM. ■

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net