Former Wapato City Administrator Juan Orozco will forgo any severance and won’t be able to hold office in Wapato in the future as part of his decision to resign to under an agreement with the state Attorney General’s office.
His decision to resign Friday helps resolve a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson in June, accusing Orozco of using his former position as mayor to unlawfully enrich himself by creating — and accepting — the $95,000 city administrator’s position last year.
The agreement requires Orozco to pay a $500 fine for violating the Code of Ethics for Municipal Employees, and prohibits him from seeking or accepting employment from the city of Wapato or any elected office in the city in the future, according to news release from the AG's office.
He will forfeit any severance. The terms of his original contract with the city called for a $95,000 annual salary, payable for seven years even in the event he was fired.
In June, the City Council reduced his severance pay to nine months in the event Orozco is terminated.
The state's lawsuit also was filed against the city of Wapato, the Wapato City Council and Wapato Mayor Dora Alvarez-Roa. It is still pending against them, the news release said.
Orozco was elected mayor in 2017, and took office in 2018. In August 2018, he asked the Wapato city attorney to draft an ordinance creating the position of city administrator with an annual salary of $95,000.
On Sept. 4, Orozco called for a special Council meeting before a regular meeting without giving notice of the meeting's purpose, in violation of the state's Open Public Meetings Act, according a report by the state Auditor's Office. The council adopted the ordinance that morning, and then Orozco resigned as mayor. The Council then appointed Alvarez-Roa as mayor, and she then appointed Orozco as city administrator.
The Code of Ethics of Municipal Employees says that a city official "may not use his or her position to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself, herself or others."