Suit stems from Jaramillo's business dealings

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

In connection to a lawsuit filed last fall by Alice resident Vilma Gaza against Domingo Ortiz Sr., Frank Jaramillo Jr. and the City of Orange Grove, Ortiz filed a lawsuit of his own on April 26 against Jaramillo and the City of Orange Grove for breach of contract, fraud and theft liability charges attached to the Foundation Repair business Ortiz owned and for which Jaramillo worked.

Gaza's original petition, filed in December, cited breach of contract, common law fraud, theft liability and civil conspiracy against Ortiz, Jaramillo and the City of Orange Grove after she said Ortiz and Jaramillo failed to complete work they were contracted, and after they were given the sum of $11,250.

She alleged the city participated in the conspiracy because it allowed Jaramillo to supplement his income with a side job and says the city had knowledge that Jaramillo was using city resources to carry out his business.

In answer to Gaza's initial petition, the City of Orange Grove responded that her petition fails because there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by any city employee.

Therefore, the city is immune from liability and suit for the plaintiff's claims, City Attorney Lucinda Garcia said in the original answer and plea filed in late January. On Feb. 15, Jaramillo answered Gaza's petition and denied every allegation.

Ortiz, in his lawsuit, alleges Jaramillo signed the contract for work to be done for Gaza without his permission.

Ortiz said he did some of the work on the Gaza project, but only received $4,000 of the total $11,750, which he spent on the project for materials and labor.

He alleges Jaramillo did no work and supplied no materials on the project, but kept the remaining $7,750. Ortiz denies any conspiracy with Jaramillo and denies he attempted to mislead Gaza.

As far as the city's alleged connection to the suit, "Plaintiff Ortiz alleges that the city action in allowing Jaramillo to continue using city property in the business was incentive to Jaramillo to stay on as Assistant Chief of Police, in lieu of paying him more money in salary.

"Other employees of the police department not only authorized and knew about Jaramillo's business activities with city property, but they also actually participated in the conducting of Jaramillo's business at the police station and with city property and equipment," the lawsuit states.

Ortiz cited 13 projects, including Gaza's, where he alleges similar actions were committed, for a total $74,750. He is asking for actual monetary damages of at least $74,750 plus incidental damages, punitive damages and attorney's fees.

Jaramillo said on Wednesday morning he was unaware of the lawsuit and had no comment to give at that time. Orange Grove Mayor Seale Brand deferred all comments to the city attorney. Garcia's office said she was unavailable for comment.