Judge rejects Sotelo request before sentencing in escape case

Published 5:44 am Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The answer was a quick and clear no. Minutes after accepting a plea deal and finding her guilty, U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles shot down a request from Adriana Sotelo’s defense team. The younger Sotelo, who had just been found guilty of helping her brother escape from Piedmont Regional Jail back in May, had asked to be released until sentencing takes place in October. 

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. Eagles was less than impressed with the idea.

In a 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.”

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To be clear, Adriana, along with her brother Alder, are in the country as illegal immigrants. 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.”

The judge pointed that out in court as well, saying all these things don’t give her confidence that Adriana would stay put. 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. 

How did we get here? 

According to the FBI and court documents, at 1:40 a.m. on Sunday, April 30, Adriana’s brother 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. In exchange, she may get a lesser sentence and possibly won’t be deported back to Mexico. 

Torres-Santana signs his plea deal 

Adriana wasn’t the only person in the case that signed a plea deal in the escape case. 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 Sotelo, Torres-Santana’s plea deal promises a reduction in sentence, rather than the full five-year term as expected.

Sentencing date set for Sotelo

Adriana Sotelo remains in jail, where she’ll stay until October 25. That’s when Judge Eagles has scheduled a sentencing hearing in the case, once the pre-sentence report she requested is complete. That’ll be held at 9:30 a.m. in the Greensboro Courthouse.