The former lover of Arizona’s Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, Jose Orozco, has filed a $1 million claim against the sheriff less than two weeks after Babeu held a press conference admitted that he is gay.
Monday, a notice of claim was filed in Pinal County Superior Court by Orozco’s attorney, Melissa Weiss-Riner. Court documents indicate Orozco intends to sue Babeu for $1 million for threatening him and his family in an attempt to silence the Mexican-born man about the sheriff’s sexuality.
A Mexica immigrants, Orozco says he was threatened by Babeu and his attorney Chris DeRose, after the Arizona sheriff and Orozco ended their relationship in September.
In February, Orozco spoke with the Phoenix New Times, saying Babeu threatened him with deportation.
An email to Weiss-Riner from DeRose sent on January 11 reads:
If you promise that your client wants to walk away, not have criminal charges filed against him, not be sued civilly, and to not engage in hostility, it’s my expectation that you know that you can deliver that result.
This email was followed by an investigation of Orozco in February, requested by Babeu. The investigation was to examine Babeu’s claims that Orozco was engaging in identity theft and crimes against him.
Monday, the Sheriff’s Office released a statement saying, “After the story broke, both Jose and his attorney confirmed Jose is here legally in the United States. Sheriff Babeu and his attorney Chris DeRose have also both said that Jose was never threatened with deportation as it has been reported.
“Now during the past few days, Jose’s attorney has said the word deportation was never used. It is clear that the photos (sent by Babeu to Orozco for his eyes only) and subsequent attacks are meant to harm the sheriff personally and politically. Sheriff Babeu personally requested a comprehensive investigation by the Attorney General’s Office to clear his name and seek possible charges.
“The case has been assigned to the Solicitor General and until the investigation is done, Sheriff Babeu will not be making any further statement to members of the media regarding this issue.”
Though a notice of claim has been filed, it should be noted that it is not a lawsuit. A notice of claim simply informs the defendant that the claim has been filed and indentifies what the claim is.