The FBI is searching for the Sun City pediatrician suspected of sharing thousands of child pornography photos last week after he apparently fled from house arrest.
Dr. Emilio Luna, 40, who was indicted by a federal grand jury on five counts of distributing child pornography last week, apparently left over the weekend. Luna was released to his sister's custody and only allowed to leave his home for specific and approved reasons, according to the FBI. Conditions of his release also included that he surrender his passports, wear an electronic monitoring device and not have access to children or the Internet. He was permitted to attend church services on Sunday around 12:30 p.m.
A family member reported that he was missing to the FBI and Glendale police, according to the Glendale Police Department.
Luna's abandoned vehicle was found by officers near Our Lady of Perpetual Help church near 55th and Orangewood avenues, according to Glendale police. The officers found bolt cutters and his house arrest monitoring device were inside the car.
Luna was arrested on Sept. 1 after federal investigators suspected him of sharing around 10,000 images through a file sharing website depicting sexually exploitive photos of children. Some of the images contained men engaging in sexual acts with children.
Federal agents had seized a desktop computer, two laptops, four external hard drives, and approximately 300 DVDs from his home in Sun City.
Investigators also found multiple passports and approximately $15,550 in a file folder in Luna's closet. It is still unclear whether the children in the shared photos depicted Luna's patients at his west Phoenix practice.
The FBI believes he may be going to Texas, California, Illinois or his hometown of Zacatecas, Mexico. Luna signed a voluntary practice restriction with the Arizona Medical Board that bars him from practicing medicine in Arizona indefinitely.
Upon learning that Luna had fled house arrest, Medical Board Executive Director Lisa Wynn said the Board is going to continue cooperating with law enforcement officials.
"The goal of the Medical Board is to protect the public as it relates to medical care," Wynn said.
The only reasonable way that Luna could be expected to practice medicine again is if all charges were dropped and he was presumed innocent, Wynn said. Even under such circumstances there would be additional questioning and testing involved before his license would be reinstated, she said.
Luna is described as Hispanic, 170 pounds, 5 feet 10 inches tall, with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Phoenix offices of the FBI at 602-279-5511 and select option 1.
World War II veteran Harry Robert Warren posted the Colors in Arizona's largest American Legion Post, then walked to the back of the room unprepared for the coming shock.
"I was kind of horrified that they would do something like that," the 86-year-old former Army corporal said after 25 fellow Legion members voted to ban celebrations of Cinco de Mayo at the veterans' organization in Apache Junction. The post has celebrated it regularly over the years.
A Battle of the Bulge survivor and member of Post 27's honor guard, Warren said he believes the recent vote was a "backlash" to protests by Latino groups against Arizona's stringent immigration law, which goes into effect on July 29.
"It happened so quickly," Warren said. "I don't think anyone was expecting it."
To Warren, the vote was one more example of how Arizona's nationally debated law can divide friends in the most unexpected settings.
Senate Bill 1070, signed into law in April, makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. It states that an officer engaged in a lawful stop, detention or arrest shall, when practicable, ask about a person's legal status when reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally.
Post Commander Felix Gonzalez said he, too, was stunned when the Post's sergeant-at-arms urged members to approve his motion to bar future Post observances of the regional Mexican observance, which has been popularized in America.
The veteran who proposed the resolution could not be reached for comment.
"It caught me by total surprise," Gonzalez said. "My jaw dropped. 'What is this guy thinking of?' I said."
Gonzalez, the son of a Mexican-American father and mother with Spanish roots, said he was powerless to block or postpone a vote, despite his position as the Post's top administrative official.
"I cannot stop a member from making a motion," Gonzalez said. "He got a second and I had to call for a vote. It blindsided me the way it was put on the floor."
"I would hope that it doesn't reflect the opinions of the overall membership of approximately 2,500. I've been commander one year, and if it were really that way I would not be commander."
Gonzalez, who can cast a vote only in the event of a tie, said he hopes members overturn the decision.
Attendance at Post meetings dwindles in the summer but escalates when winter-visitor members return to the Valley, he said.
The official reason given for the vote was that because Mexico does not celebrate Cinco de Mayo as a national holiday, there is no reason for the Post to conduct festivities for it, Gonzalez said.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862, in Puebla, Mexico, where Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza led about 4,000 ill-equipped Mestizo and Zapotec Indians to victory over a much larger French Army.
"A lot of people don't know the reason for having St. Patrick's Day, either," said Gonzalez, a 24-year Air Force veteran.
Luis Sanchez and Marlen Ramirez, undocumented immigrants from Mexico, packed up and moved to Pennsylvania this month, taking their three U.S. citizen children with them.
"It's basically running us out of business," said Rollie Rankin, 62, of Peoria, who owns several apartment buildings in Surprise, including the one where Sanchez and Ramirez lived with their children. Most of his renters are from Mexico, though Rankin does not ask about their immigration status.
Rankin said seven families have moved since Gov. Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 on April 23. The families told Rankin they were leaving because of the law. Four of the families moved to Pennsylvania, among them Sanchez and Ramirez and their three children. Another family moved to Tennessee. Two other families moved to Mexico, Rankin said.
"People are scared," said Rankin, who opposes the law. "They have had enough of the crackdown. Back in the old days, it was a wink and a nod; there was tacit approval that they were here. Now, it's an open attack."
Arizona's immigration law makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. It states that an officer engaged in a lawful stop, detention or arrest shall, when practicable, ask about a person's legal status when reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally.
The law takes effect July 29. But many immigrants aren't waiting. Scores already have left. Some headed to other states, and some are moving back to Mexico.
Supporters say their departure will save the state money because taxpayers won't have to cover the cost of education or social services for their children, including those of Sanchez and Ramirez, who were on the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's health-care program for indigents. But the effect of illegal immigrants leaving Arizona is not that clear-cut.
Some school districts that serve large immigrant neighborhoods already have seen sharp drops in enrollment. That could save the state money but hurt individual schools because every student equates to $4,404 in per-pupil state funding. Analysts say the flight of illegal immigrants also could lead to a loss of sales tax and other revenue. And their departure is hurting the apartment complexes and stores where they live and shop.
Latinos represent a huge and fast-growing market. About one in three people in Arizona is Latino, and about 40 percent are 17 or younger. In Arizona, Latinos accounted for 16 percent of all purchases in the state, or $31 billion in spending, according to a report by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Rankin said he is having trouble renting the empty apartments because many families are waiting to see if the law survives legal challenges. If the law takes effect on July 29, he expects more families to move out.
Rankin said the law comes just as the housing market was starting to improve. He bought seven four-unit buildings in 2001. He lost one building to foreclosure in May and another at the beginning of June. He fears he will lose more buildings if he keeps losing renters and can't pay the mortgage.
"We are probably going to lose the whole thing," Rankin said.
Throughout the neighborhood, many businesses that cater to Latino immigrants also are taking a hit.
Gloria Mayorja, 65, of Peoria, goes door to door selling homemade churros. She was selling 140 a day before Brewer signed the law. Now, she is selling only 50 or 60.
"People are leaving, so they don't want to spend any more money," Mayorja said.
Kim Nuu, manager of a 99-cent store on Dysart Road in Surprise, said most of his customers are Latino immigrants. Sales are way down.
"In December, we are closing," he said. "We aren't making enough money to pay rent. I don't know why, but business is slow."
State Rep. John Kavanah, R-Fountain Hills, who sponsored the House version of SB 1070, predicts the departure of illegal immigrants will reduce the cost of government.
Kavanah cited a study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization in Washington, D.C., that pushes for reductions in immigration, legal and illegal. The organization estimates that the total education, medical and incarceration costs in Arizona because of illegal immigration are more than $2 billion a year.
Illegal immigrants tend to work in low-paying jobs and therefore pay less in taxes than the cost of government services such as public education, AHCCCS and food stamps that they and their families consume, he said.
He also predicts that the state's unemployment rate will go down as illegal workers are replaced by unemployed Americans. Arizona's unemployment rate was at 9.6 percent in May, according to the Arizona Department of Commerce.
Kavanah acknowledged, however, that some businesses will suffer. He said those business are "victims of illegal immigration" because they tapped into a market that was artificially inflated by the federal government's inaction over controlling illegal immigration.
"If there are a few pockets of economic activity that will suffer, that is unfortunate, but I am sure that if their business is worth having because there is a demand for it, then they will survive," Kavanah said. "If their business isn't worth having because there is no demand for their services, then their business will go away. But that is the way it is supposed to be in an efficient economy."
Judith Gans, manager of the immigration-policy program at the University of Arizona, agreed that some American workers may benefit by illegal immigrants leaving the state. And she agreed that illegal immigrants tend to consume more services than what they pay for in taxes because they work in low-paying jobs. But low-skilled legal workers also consume more in services than they pay for in taxes, she said. If anything, she said, replacing illegal workers may increase government costs because legal workers are entitled to social services that illegal immigrants don't qualify for.
"If we fill all of those jobs with legal, low-skilled, native-born workers, the fiscal burdens don't change. It's inherent in the job itself, not in somebody's immigration status," she said. "It's sort of a myth that if these illegal immigrants weren't here these fiscal burdens would somehow magically change."
The state also will lose the sales taxes paid by illegal immigrants, she said.
Sanchez, who moved to Pennsylvania with his family this month, worked in Arizona as a landscaper and gardener. He got his job using fake documents and paid income taxes as well as sales taxes. He also paid property taxes indirectly through his rent.
He said he knows supporters of the law are glad to see undocumented immigrants like him leave. But he doesn't think he will be easily replaced.
"We work outside under the sun during the really hot weather," said Sanchez, who made $9.80 an hour. "This work doesn't pay very well, and it's very hard work. This is the kind of work that almost all the undocumented do because no one else wants to do it. They say that we are taking away jobs, but it's a lie. These jobs doing yard work - no one wants to do them."
A Mesa doctor was arrested a second time Friday by police and accused of eight counts of sexual abuse and two counts of sexual assault after six additional people came forward, police said.
Police fielded more than 25 telephone calls about Ogbonnaya since his first arrest. Their subsequent investigation led to Friday's arrest, according to Detective Steve Berry, a police spokesman.
When detectives arrived at Ogbonnaya's office, they were told by his staff that he was not available and they would have to speak to his attorney. After the staff refused to unlock the doors from the office lobby, detectives jumped over a counter to gain access to Ogbonnaya's office, Berry said.
He said detectives found Ogbonnaya locked in his office. After a short period of negotiation, the doctor opened his office and was taken into custody. He was taken to police headquarters and booked on two counts of sexual assault and three counts of sexual abuse. Five additional counts of sexual abuse were tacked on to the original June 9 case.
At that time, the women reported that Ogbonnaya patted their genital areas over their clothing and told them to "have more sex."
For a brief, agonizing time, car-wash workers Sandra and Carlos Figueroa were put through a wringer, powerless to steer their lives as all sorts of abrasive elements closed in on them.
But when the Figueroas emerged, the stain of being undocumented had been scrubbed away. The two were given legal permission to live freely in the United States.
"It was something difficult that brought a great benefit," Carlos said.
The Figueroas, both 35, were among the primary targets of the bust of the Lindstrom Family Auto Wash in east Phoenix one year ago today.
While Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio conducted a news conference in front of the car wash, deputies booked the Figueroas on suspicion of working under false documents and led them away in handcuffs.
Their then-9-year-old daughter, Katherine, watched her parents' arrests live on the morning news, dropping to her knees in her aunt's home and sobbing.
In jail, the Figueroas imagined nightmare scenarios: They would be dumped at the border that evening with no money. They would never see each other again. They would never see their daughter again.
But neither envisioned the eventual outcome: legal passes to stay in the U.S. for at least a few years.
Sandra and Carlos took plea deals that reduced identity-theft charges to a low-grade felony of criminal impersonation. Each served three months in jail and then was shipped to immigration authorities. They asked to see an immigration judge.
But the immigration system has a backlog that has grown to more than 4,000 cases since 2007. That was the year Arpaio entered a federal program, known as 287g, that allowed deputies and detention officers to enforce immigration law.
Sandra is scheduled to see a judge in July 2013. Carlos is scheduled for May 2012.
"Thanks to Sheriff Joe," Carlos said in Spanish, switching to English. "That's true. Sometimes he's helping us."
The Figueroas have permission to remain in the country while they await their court dates. Carlos also asked for and received permission to work. He got his job back at the Lindstrom car wash.
The irony is not lost on the couple.
"They didn't take us out like (Arpaio) wanted to," Sandra said in Spanish. "We're starting our lives over, but we're here. . . .
"In the end, (the raid) doesn't work. We're still here."
The couple reside in an immigration purgatory of sorts. Carlos and Sandra are not technically illegal immigrants. Even though they admit to crossing the border illegally, a court has yet to rule on their status. And for the time being, they are legally here.
Nor are they undocumented immigrants in the literal sense. They carry papers proving they have permission to be in the U.S.
Their situation is uncommon, but the couple are not alone. Of the 13 people charged in the car-wash bust, six remain in the United States while awaiting their day in immigration court.
Before they found this safe haven amid the byzantine labyrinth of immigration bureaucracy, Carlos and Sandra Figueroa lived what they saw as the typical life of an illegal-immigrant family.
The couple had met and married in Mexico City, but thought that was no place to raise a child. Not enough good-paying jobs and too much crime. In 1997, they jumped a border fence, Carlos said, and after a short walk through the desert, met with the coyote who delivered them to the Valley. Their daughter was born three years later.
In January 2003, Carlos found a job at the family-run car wash. He doesn't remember what documents, if any, he showed to get the job. Authorities would later accuse Carlos of filling out a false federal W-4 tax withholding form.
Carlos worked his way up to manager, in charge of the mostly Spanish-speaking employees, which included his wife. When the owner was traveling, he would leave the business in Carlos' hands, knowing the operation would run smoothly.
But for the past three years, Carlos and Sandra have wondered if Arizona is the place for them. They read about tough new laws and Arpaio's sweeps in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods. Carlos bought land outside Mexico City and hired workers to build a house. The two would save money and find some way to start a business in Mexico once their home was finished.
Carlos had no idea his family's fates would soon be in the hands of others.
In July 2008, Michael Heinlein, a former general manager of Lindstrom, e-mailed the Maricopa County Attorney's Office saying that most of the car-wash employees were hired with false documents. According to court documents, Heinlein, who left the car wash in October 2007, specifically mentioned Carlos and Sandra. He said he knew they were in the country illegally because Carlos mentioned his plan to someday return to Mexico.
Heinlein, in a phone interview, said he bore no grudge against the car wash or its employees. "I felt I saw some injustice and let the proper authorities know," he said.
Heinlein came in for a follow-up interview with sheriff's deputies a few months later. He expanded on his allegations, saying he was sure the owner, Michael Martin, knew some employees were hired illegally.
The owners of the car wash declined comment. They have yet to face any accusations of violating the state's laws on hiring practices.
The sheriff's office's investigation of the car wash spanned 11 months. Deputies pulled employee-payroll records from a state database, sent a query to the federal Social Security office and put the car wash under surveillance, recording license-plate numbers of employees. It found the names on the vehicles didn't match the names on the employee paperwork. Other names didn't match with Social Security numbers. Among the employees with discrepancies were Carlos and Sandra Figueroa.
On June 13, a Saturday, some 50 Maricopa County deputies and posse members descended on the car wash.
Sandra Figueroa was vacuuming a car. Her husband ran to her to tell her police were surrounding the place.
"We couldn't run. We couldn't do anything," he said.
The two ducked into the store of the car wash, Carlos holding his wife tightly.
Deputies questioned them. Sandra asked for a lawyer immediately.
"They asked us about our bosses, like they wanted us to slip up and say something," she said. "So I tried to say the least possible."
Their wrists zip-tied together, they were led into a waiting sheriff's van along with the other employees arrested that day. Sandra saw the television cameras. She figured the arrest would be on the evening news. She didn't know it was being broadcast live.
Their daughter, Katherine, was at her aunt's house, playing with her cousin, when she heard the man on the TV say there was a bust at a car wash. She ran to the living room in time to see her mother and father in custody. She started sobbing uncontrollably, thinking she would never see them again.
An immigrant-rights advocate visited Katherine at her aunt's house. Video camera in hand, he recorded a tearful plea from her. The video, in which she begged President Barack Obama to change immigration laws, was viewed thousands of times on YouTube.
Arpaio said the girl was being used to get sympathy.
Katherine stayed with her aunt. The two went to the Figueroa house and started packing, should the family have to move quickly to Mexico. Katherine boxed up all of her toys, including her prized "High School Musical" and Jonas Brothers collections. She saved four Barbie dolls to play with.
Jail was expectedly unpleasant. Carlos said the food was as bad as he had heard. There were frequent fights where guards would not intervene. Sandra said she was frequently strip-searched.
The two said they were told the charges would disappear if they could testify that Lindstrom managers knowingly violated the law.
"I could maybe have lied and told them I could give them information," Carlos said. "But if the information I gave them didn't help them, they'd still keep me in the cell."
Carlos saw one fellow employee go free. He didn't know why.
Prosecutors offered a plea deal, dropping the charges to the lowest-type felony and requiring a 90-day stay in jail. Carlos and Sandra hesitated, fearing the deal might jeopardize chances of remaining in the U.S. with their daughter. They eventually hired an immigration lawyer.
The Phoenix attorney, Kevin Gibbons, advised the couple to take the plea deal, a recommendation they followed. After they served their jail time, they were sent to immigration authorities. There, they asked to see a judge, saying they had a U.S. citizen daughter.
"Everybody has the chance to have their day in court," Gibbons said. "Even though they are immigrants, they are afforded constitutional rights."
Immigrants who have committed serious felonies, or who have "good moral character" concerns, as statutes put it, do not get their day in court. But Gibbons said that applies only to about 1 percent of detainees.
Gibbons said he expected delays in immigration court to continue as more immigrants are placed in the pipeline. The backlog would grow, he said, as immigrants realized they could delay deportation by asking to see a judge.
Sandra left the Phoenix immigration office in September with orders to return in December to receive a court date.
On the day of her release, Sandra's first stop was her sister's house. Katherine, peering through the letters her mom had written in jail, looked up in shock. The two embraced, stumbling together through the home and outside.
In her letters, Sandra promised her daughter they would be together again, even though sometimes she doubted it herself. "On some days, it seemed like it was just a dream," she said. "Then, when it became reality, I thought I was dreaming."
Carlos was released from the immigration facility in Eloy a few days later, with orders to return in March. He was still unsure why he was behind bars for so long.
"We made a mistake in crossing," Carlos said, "but we didn't cross to do anything destructive. . . . People who rob, people who sell drugs, doing all those bad things, where are they? They're free. And those of us that are working, we're taking up the spot that should belong to these serious criminals."
The couple unpacked some of their belongings, but their status remained uncertain. Court dates were months away, and there was no guarantee a judge wouldn't order them out of the country quickly, especially since both had a recent felony conviction.
Before Sandra left for her hearing in December, she prayed to the Virgin of Guadalupe and to Jesus Christ, leaving it in their hands. She also took some money in case she was deported to Mexico that afternoon.
She wasn't. The judge scheduled her hearing for July 2013. "It made me very happy," she said. "I didn't expect that much time."
Carlos went in March and found out his date: May 2012.
Their attorney said chances are slim a judge will grant them permission to stay permanently. Hardship dismissals are rare, and the government only allows so many. Still, the delayed hearings bought them some time.
Carlos' request to work was granted. He has a plastic authorization card in his wallet to prove it. The car-wash owner gladly took him back, at his old job and old salary. He also told him that customers were leaving donations for the family.
The employees Carlos supervises are no longer all Latino or Spanish-speaking. Carlos said some "Americanos" have started working there, although some have quit after a few days. "They don't want to work," he said. "They just want a check."
Sandra can apply for permission to work, as well. But she's seven months pregnant and will wait awhile to do so.
In the two years they have, they will prepare to be deported back to Mexico, the most likely outcome. But they will also hope Congress changes the immigration laws, allowing them to stay.
Carlos has made plans to finish the house in Mexico. If the couple stay in the U.S., he wants to make it a vacation home, allowing Katherine to visit Mexico, a country she's curious about.
Katherine, who has finished fifth grade, now wants to be a lawyer.
"I can help people who are in jail for no reason and the people who are innocent and didn't do a crime," she said.
Katherine has become an advocate over the past year, appearing on television and giving speeches at rallies. On Thursday, she testified before Congress about the raid that briefly left her an orphan.
Sandra's sister had recorded various news accounts of the arrests and interviews with Katherine, but Sandra has not had the stomach to view them yet. She doesn't want to see her part in what she saw as an Arpaio-orchestrated television show.
"He wants to use us to put fear in the community and to let everybody think he's working," she said. "It's the only reason he does this."
At a recent news conference, Arpaio said his busts would still be worthwhile, even if they don't result in every arrested immigrant leaving the country.
"All my enforcement actions are worth it," Arpaio said. "I'm the cop. I don't run the courts. . . . If they want to let 'em out, that's OK."
Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said the high-profile raids provide a much-needed deterrent effect. "You get a great bang for your buck," said Thomas, who resigned in April to run for state Attorney General, "by sending the message to the illegal-immigrant population that we mean business."
Heinlein, the man who sent in the initial tip that resulted in the raid, said he was driving along Indian School Road the other day and saw Carlos back at Lindstrom working. He didn't get angry or call authorities, he said.
"As a matter of fact," he said, "I saw a little bit of humor in it."