A Mexican citizen who was charged for repeatedly sexually abusing his 8-year-old stepdaughter was draining Utah County jail’s medical budget after being diagnosed with cancer.
Gerardo Valerio-Romero, 49, who has also been accused of eight felony charges related to forgery and an unlawful possession of a person’s identity, is set to go to trial in August. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) placed a detainer order on Valerio-Romero when he was arrested in March 2017, but his trial was delayed twice, according to The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.
Valerio-Romero pleaded not guilty to all charges.
His medical costs could go over $1 million, though the county received a discounted price to pay for the medical bills. Commissioner Nathan Ivie said one inmate’s medical bills, referring to Valerio-Romero, had been about $800,000, but the county was able to negotiate a lower price, The Tribune reported July 3.
“We have one inmate who shouldn’t even be in this country because of a previous conviction who has currently cost us over $500,000 in medical expenses,” police commissioner Nathan Ivie said July 3 to The Tribune.
Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy said the prior conviction was not an offense that could lead Valerio-Romero to face deportation, according to The Tribune. Even with the discount, the bills have drained the county jail’s medical budget and could continue to do so if Valerio-Romero is not ready to stand trial.
Valerio-Romero could be deported, however, if acquitted. Court dockets showed Valerio-Romero waived his right to a speedy trial, The Tribune reported. (RELATED: Over 70 Sex Offenders Will Get To Vote Under Cuomo’s Voting Restoration Pardon Policy)
The dispute surrounding the jail paying for the high health care costs led Tracy to announce his resignation on July 3 in protest, even though he was set to retire January 2019, the The Tribune reported.
Tracy said he would “close two pods in the jail” and possibly release up to 128 inmates into the community while eliminating 20 positions, though officials said the sheriff’s office had enough money to keep the jail open without having to cut staff positions or release inmates, according to The Tribune.
“We’re looking to the federal government and federal delegation to step up,” Ivie said. “It’s their responsibility to enforce these laws. It’s their failure to act that’s created this situation.”
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