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Three plead not guilty to theft from English program

Reported by: Sandra Gonzalez
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Updated: 7/29/2014 3:04 am

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- A retired school district leader appeared in court for the first time Monday, since she and four others were indicted on charges of misusing public money.

Priscilla Rocha's appearance was her arraignment.

Rocha, a retired director of the school districts' Adult English Language Acquisition Services, her son Jerome Rocha, and another defendant entered their pleas before Judge Kenneth Corey. 

These three are not the only ones accused in a scheme to take money from the Clark County School District.

Co-defendants Andres Mendoza and Jaime Espitia were assigned public defenders.

News 3 caught up with Mendoza as he was leaving court.

"I think I'm innocent of the charges that are against me and I will have the chance to defend myself with the public lawyer that is going to be assigned to me," Mendoza said.

Prosecutors then brought up the issue of bail, highly concerned the defendants will flee. Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Staudaher says they crossed the border three times to deliver computers, as noted in the grand jury documents.

"Which were brand new computers in the boxes, across the border into Ensenada, those computers and the border crossings are evident of why the state is concerned with the non-bail status of these individuals," Staudeher said.

Meanwhile, Priscilla Rocha's attorney Tom Pitaro firmly stated defendants' heritage is being derogated by this request.

"So this idea that she is a Mexican-American but an American citizen and had gone to Mexico and that this engaged educational activity of computers and bringing books back to the United States for adult education just seems a little far fetched," Pitaro said.

A bail hearing will be held Wednesday afternoon. The highest proposed bail amount would be for Priscilla Rocha at $640,000.

All defendants are expected to head to the jail Tuesday for processing, and then be released.



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