Thursday, August 17, 2000

Federal fugitive's daughter in trouble with law herself

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Lucila Padilla's father has been declared a federal fugitive from justice — and now she faces three felony charges, each carrying up to five years in prison.

        Ms. Padilla, 22, was being held Wednesday in the Butler County Resolutions minimum-security jail on two counts of tampering with records and a count of forgery. Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles officials signed the charges, alleging Ms. Padilla forged her father's name on a power of attorney, then used it to improperly renew two expired vehicle registrations in his name, said Sgt. Jeff Gebhart, supervisor of the Butler County sheriff's fugitive unit.

        Police learned about the alleged document tampering while continuing to search for Ms. Padilla's father, Jesus Padilla, 43. They have been looking for him since late March, when he was accused of skipping out on a $200,000 bond and failing to appear for trial in a double-fatal drunken-driving case.

        Meanwhile, attorney John David Smith of Springboro is questioning whether authorities are taking harsher ac tion against Ms. Padilla because of her father's situation.

        Mr. Smith, who also has represented Ms. Padilla's father, noted her bail was set at $200,000 — the same amount a judge in May ordered Castle Bail Bonds to pay the county common pleas court after Mr. Padilla apparently left. He is accused in a September head-on collision that killed Cecil Shope, 55, of Anderson Township, and Sandra Shircliff, 47, of Maineville.

        “Apparently she's being charged for the "sins of her father,'” Mr. Smith said. “She looks bad because she's a Padilla and her father did a very bad thing by not showing up for court. ... Is it proper for them to do what they're doing because of that?”

        Sgt. Gebhart said sheriff's deputies were merely following orders when they arrested Ms. Padilla at her Pleasant Avenue home this week. “We just did the pickup for the court,” he said.

        In July, investigators had noticed a new, temporary license tag on a 1998 Ford truck registered to Mr. Padilla. Further checking revealed a 1989 Ford van also was registered to him — and that the renewals had been accomplished via a power of attorney.

        At first authorities thought the signature could have been Mr. Padilla's — and perhaps his family was concealing his whereabouts while communicating with him. However, Sgt. Gebhart said, further checking revealed the signature was not Mr. Padilla's.

        Hamilton Municipal Judge John G. Rosmarin had indicated he would consider a lower bail, Mr. Smith said, after more facts about the case come to light in a preliminary hearing set for Monday.


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