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Judge Issues $1 Million Warrant for Child Molester Accidentally Released from Jail

Judge Paul Marigonda has issued a $1 million warrant for a Watsonville man who pleaded no contest to molesting a 13-year-old girl and then was accidentally released from jail before his sentencing.

A Quality Control Officer at the Santa Cruz County Jail Jorge Antonio Pallares, 38, released him to be deported by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, according to a release by District Attorney Bob Lee. Pallares is a Mexican national, but should have had to serve jail time before he was deported.

During a deportation hearing an attorney from the Immigration department contacted the Sheriff's Office to ask whether Pallares should be sent to Mexico since he had a sentencing on the sex case scheduled for Dec. 12. Officers at the jail reviewed the request and refused to take him back to jail.

Marigonda sentenced the absent molester to six years in jail and set a $1 million warrant for his return.

"This should never have happened," said Lee, the District Attorney. "A convicted child molester is now free to victimize other children."

Sheriff's spokesman Ryan Kennedy said this: 

"I have been informed that this matter is being investigated by the Sheriff’s Office, more specifically, what occurred and the actions that will be taken stemming from the incident. Sorry, that’s all I have right now."

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