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Trial set for embattled school board member

A trial by jury has been set for the Williams Unified School District trustee accused of election fraud and perjury. 

Rosa Orozco-Lopez, 62, who claimed to live in Williams when she filed candidacy papers in 2014 and again in 2016, is charged with two counts of perjury by declaration, one count of filing false nomination papers, one count of voter registration fraud, and three counts of voting in an election in which she was ineligible to vote. 

Orozco-Lopez, through her attorney Daniel Olmos, of Nolan Barton and Olmos, of Palo Alto, has pleaded not guilty to all charges. She last appeared in Colusa County Superior Court on Jan. 23, where Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson scheduled her trial to begin May 21. 

Orozo-Lopez was arrested at her Yuba City home on April 6, 2018, following a three-year investigation that was initiated by the Colusa County Grand Jury, court records indicate. 

The Colusa County District Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, contends that while Orozco-Lopez claimed that her father’s home in Williams was her primary residence – or her domicile – when she filed candidacy papers for a seat on the school board, she actually continued to live at a home she has owned in Yuba City since 2007.

Orozco-Lopez’s attorney contends that his client established the Williams residence as her domicile in 2014, when she stated her intent to move to the home, and that she effectuated the intent by changing her address with the Department of Motor Vehicles, for both her vehicle registration and driver’s license. She also registered to vote using the Williams address, moved her pay stubs there, filed taxes there, and moved her financial accounts there, her defense claims. 

Williams Unified School District, in its own ethics and governance investigation, claimed Orozco-Lopez was the victim of a “witch hunt” by the teachers union, who were at odds with the administration at the time of her arrest, and disenchanted former school board members, who wanted to create vacancies on the board.

Representatives from the union and former school board members have called the commissioned report by Steve Hummel, of Paradox Technology Investigation, ludicrous because the investigation into Orozco-Lopez’s alleged election violations predated last year’s tensions at the school district. 

Orozco-Lopez, who has been out on $15,000 bail since her arrest last year, is next scheduled to appear in court on May 8 for a trial readiness conference. 

She remains seated on the Williams Unified School District Board of Trustees. ■

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