US Attorney: Judge helped man evade ICE agents

ICE agents eventually caught up with Diddier Pancheco weeks later

The Multnomah County Justice Center, October 2016 (KOIN)
The Multnomah County Justice Center, October 2016 (KOIN)

MULTNOMAH CO., Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon’s top federal prosecutor says a Multnomah County judge helped an illegal immigrant elude ICE agents waiting to deport him.

It happened at the Multnomah County Justice Center on January 27 when Diddier Pancheco entered a change of plea for a DUI case, KOIN 6 News learned.

ICE agents were reportedly there waiting for him at their usual spots.

US Attorney Billy Williams in Portland, February 28, 2017 (KOIN)
US Attorney Billy Williams in Portland, February 28, 2017 (KOIN)

But he left through a different door typically used only by court officials. U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said he believes someone helped him get through that door.

“I thought it was inappropriate, I thought it was unprofessional,” Williams said. “I strongly believe that it just cannot happen again.”

Monica Herranz was on the bench acting as a court referee at the time. Williams said he’s unsure whether Herranz instructed Pancheco to leave through that door.

“I don’t know exactly what the referee did inside the courtroom,” Williams said.

Herranz’s supervisor said there’s a “chilling” effect when ICE enters the courthouse.

Diddier Pancheco in an undated photo from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office
Diddier Pancheco in an undated photo from Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.

“We don’t quibble with the fact that they have a job to do,” Judge Nan Waller said via phone. “However, it would be nice if they were not inside the courthouse.”

Williams said he’s aware officials like Judge Waller “would like courthouses to be sensitive areas,” however, he said, he thinks that’s unlikely.

ICE agents caught up with Pancheco a couple weeks later. His defense attorney John Schlosser said he was arrested outside of court on February 10.

“We are willing, in effect, to not pursue a criminal investigation,” Williams said.

Herranz told KOIN 6 News she is unable to comment at this time.