by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….
What everyone knew was that Osman Torres Huete was going to be deported. His family had posted the $1000 cash bail for his release, but at any time during the next two days Border Patrol was going to pluck Osman out of the county jail on Stock Island and send him back to Honduras.
However, when, against all odds, Mr. Torres Huete’s immigration lawyer, Reggie Smith, arrived at the jail on July 8th to challenge her client’s “unlawful detention” an embarrassing situation came to light: There was no trace of the $1000 cash bond that had been paid by his family on the 6th of July. A $1000 check was hastily written on an MCSO bank account to replace Osman’s cash bond and he was subsequently released.
The Monroe County Sheriff ordered an internal affairs investigation. This week we received a copy of those findings.
The IA Report explains it like this: The $1000 in cash was paid into an electronic machine located in the jail lobby. Touchpay’s [the private company that manages the machine] system did show the payment, but the company had failed to notify the proper parties at the Sheriff’s office, so Osman was mistakenly kept in jail until his attorney showed up two days later.
We’ve published the full IA report below, but first, there are a few questions raised by this official version of events:
First, during those two days, jail personnel told [and texted] the Torres Huete family they knew that Osman’s bail had been paid but that he could not be released due to a request by Border Patrol to keep him there. Investigators did not contact the family member [whose name appeared on the bail record]. She would have told them that she had paid the bail using the machine in the jail lobby with the help of an MCSO employee.
Another issue is the claim that Touchpay didn’t inform MCSO that Osman’s bail had been paid. Touchpay confirmed they had indeed sent a notification the day Osman’s bail was paid [July 6th] to a list of MCSO employees. But, according to the IA report, the email distribution list was not “current”.
On July 13th, Jim Painter, IT Director for MCSO, wrote an internal email to several MCSO employees including Sheriff Rick Ramsay. In the email, Painter stated that Touchpay’s July 6th “emails did go to all that were on the list.”
However, on July 26, 2017, Painter emailed the IA investigator Michelle Maxwell, stating that he had checked the firewall and that “we did not see any instances of the email of the 6th being delivered to anyone in our agency.”
Why the contradiction?
And what about all of the other inmates? Were all other inmates who posted bail during the time period Touchpay was using the out-of-date email distribution list also kept in jail for days after their bail was paid? Or did the problem only arise with inmates who were under the cloud of deportation?
Interestingly, the IA report never mentions the central question raised by Osman Torres Huete’s attorney: What is MCSO’s policy when it comes to cooperating with immigration detainer holds at the Monroe County jail?
A legitimate question on the minds of many is: To what extent, if any, was MCSO’s failure to release Osman, after his bail was paid, related to avoiding a conflict with ICE — one of the jail’s largest patrons?