February 2, 2011
A Colorado Springs family has sued the federal government, claiming the FBI created a “ticking time bomb” by supplying alcohol, money and access to drugs and guns to a rogue informant who later took part in a drive-by shooting of their home.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court by Suzie Baltazar, her 4-year-old son Alejandro Perez, and her aunt Diane Baltazar. All three were inside their home at 736 E. Cucharras St. on Feb. 14, 2009, when a gunman peppered the house with eight shots, hitting one woman in the leg and narrowly missing the other adults and children inside.
At the time, Diane Baltazar said the shooting was supposed to be “a Valentine’s Day massacre.”
In May, Robert “Payayo” Rodarte pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder in the shooting and is serving a 20-year prison sentence. He is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
FBI spokesman Dave Joly said he could not comment on the lawsuit.
According to the suit, Rodarte was acting at the time as an informant for the FBI. He had been paid more than $16,000 and was promised an additional $83,000 for his help in assuring the arrests of leaders of a street gang knows as “Los Flamingos,” the suit states.
However, the FBI did not inform Rodarte’s parole officer of his involvement, the lawsuit contends. And agents allowed Rodarte to handle guns and drugs, violations of that parole, the suit claims.
The lawsuit contends that earlier that day, the FBI supplied a wire-tapped hotel room stocked with a large quantity of liquor for Rodarte to meet with leaders of the gang.
While in the room, the group made plans to kill a rival named Jorge Perez at his home, the suit claims. But despite having wired the room for sound and video, the suit contends FBI agents “failed to monitor these conversations as they occurred.”
The suit also contends that a limousine supplied by the FBI was used by Rodarte and gang members to go get a gun. The suit states that Rodarte then called an FBI task force officer and asked for Perez’s address, saying “we gotta do this for Orlando,” referring to a gang member who previously had threatened Perez with violence.
Rodarte then got into another vehicle and carried out the shooting. Perez was not home at the time, but the bullets nearly hit his son, Alejandro.
In an affidavit in the case against Rodarte, investigators said members of the gang blamed Perez for a September 2008 robbery in which $30,000 worth of drugs were stolen.
Perez was one of several people arrested on drug charges in a series of raids in October 2009. However that case is on hold after a judge tossed out wiretap evidence, ruling that the chief judge who signed the warrant had a conflict of interest because his son worked as a prosecutor. The 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office has appealed that ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court.
For more court coverage, visit “The Sidebar” blog at gazette.com