Marin-Sotelo cuts plea deal in escape case

Published 11:09 am Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Adriana Marin-Sotelo

Adriana Marin-Sotelo

Adriana Marin-Sotelo was supposed to be in court on August 14, with arguments starting in her trial. Instead, she’s waiting to find out how long her jail sentence will be. On Tuesday, Aug. 2, Adriana agreed to a deal with the prosecution, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to assist/instigate escape.

In return, she’ll potentially receive a shorter prison sentence, rather than the maximum of five years as expected. Also, since Adriana is not in the country legally, typically in a case like this she would automatically be deported and permanently banned from re-entering the country. The plea deal instead says she “might” be deported and face “possible permanent exclusion”, leaving a final decision up to U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles.

Now that plea deal isn’t automatic. There’s a couple things that need to happen between now and sentencing in order for the judge to sign off. The first part has already taken place. The defendant has to “clearly demonstrate acceptable of responsibility”, which Adriana did through accepting this deal and pleading guilty. The second part requires that the government confirm “the defendant has assisted authorities in the investigation or prosecution”. That’s referring to the case of Adriana’s brother, Alder. According to the FBI and court documents, at 1:40 a.m. on Sunday, April 30, Alder climbed over the fence at Farmville’s Piedmont Regional Jail and escaped. Four hours later, at 5:40 a.m., video cameras caught him climbing into a red Mustang in a nearby parking lot and driving away. On Thursday, May 4, he was arrested by Mexican authorities in the state of Guerrero and brought back to the U.S. In addition to the federal weapons charges he faces, and now the charges of escape, Alder is one of two suspects in the murder of a Wake County sheriff’s deputy. Adriana was arrested on Tuesday, May 2, accused of buying the car that Alder escaped in and otherwise helping facilitate his departure. As part of the plea deal, Adriana has to testify about both her experiences and anything else she remembers about her brother’s escape. Once the government is satisfied, then they’ll tell the judge she’s fulfilled the terms of her plea deal.

SECOND REQUEST REJECTED

Before the plea deal was put forth, Adriana’s legal team had made a request of Judge Eagles, which was shot down. The mother of four children, Adriana asked to be let go, suggesting through her attorney that she could return home to High Point, North Carolina and live under house arrest or under some type of electronic monitoring system to make sure she didn’t run. U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles was less than impressed with the idea. In her written response, the judge pointed out that Adriana “has significant ties to Mexico, lacks legal status in the United States, and has crossed or attempted to illegally cross the border on multiple occasions.” As a result, Eagles wrote, Adriana, due to her status as a noncitizen, “faces the prospect of deportation after conviction and potential separation from her four United States citizen children, which provides added incentive to obstruct or otherwise fail to appear in these proceedings.” Eagles pointed out that people can remove electronic monitors and no family member or friend would watch 24-7 to make sure she doesn’t run.

TORRES-SANTANA AGREES TO PLEA DEAL

Adriana wasn’t the only person in the case that signed a plea deal Tuesday. Geovanni Torres-Santana also came to terms with the prosecution. After Alder’s escape, FBI officials listened to all previous calls Alder made over the prior week while in jail. Based on those results, the agents also started listening to calls made by a second inmate, who has now been identified as Giovanni Torres-Santana. On Friday, April 28, Torres-Santana made two calls to a family member, arranging for a red Mustang, eventually used as the getaway vehicle, to be picked up in High Point, North Carolina.During that second call, Torres-Santana gave Adriana’s name and phone number, saying she had bought the car for $3,000 and was providing a temporary 30-day paper license plate. This family member was supposed to pick up the car from her and then have it in place near Piedmont Regional Jail by midnight on April 30. Those FBI filings and court documents claim it was this family member that dropped off the car in a jail parking lot, in exchange for a fee.That fee, the FBI filings and court documents allege, was supposed to be paid by Adriana. On Saturday, April 29 at about 6:04 p.m., the court documents claim Adriana received a call from her brother Alder. He told her to meet the family member of this second inmate. Allegedly, she was to give this person the red Mustang. Then after the escape, she was to pay the person $2,500, the FBI filings allege.

Just like Adriana, Torres-Santana’s plea deal promises a reduction in sentence, rather than the full five-year term as expected.