Pasco father pleads innocent to taking daughter

A Pasco man accused of taking his daughter to Mexico against court orders pleaded innocent Tuesday.

Jose "Joe" R. Veliz Jr., 48, is scheduled for trial April 22 in Franklin County Superior Court on one count of first-degree custodial interference, a felony.

The father was returned to Pasco on Friday evening and booked into the Franklin County jail after being held in San Diego for more than two months.

Veliz was arrested on a warrant Dec. 16 by customs officials at the San Isidro border as he tried to cross into California with his daughter in the car.

He disappeared Aug. 16 after he picked up his then-4-year-old daughter for an overnight visit. He was supposed to return the girl by 5 p.m. the next day but never showed up, according to court documents.

The girl's mother, Lorena, has custody.

Documents said authorities learned Veliz also goes by the name of Joel Perez Rodriguez, age 49. He was in custody in San Diego under that name, but back in Franklin County is booked under Veliz.

His bail was reduced to $50,000 from the $150,000 it was set at Monday when he made his first court appearance.

Attempted theft trial set

A 35-year-old Pasco man faces trial April 22 on allegations he was trying to steal two Jet Skis and a trailer when police caught him attaching it to his truck's hitch.

Ruben Cardoza pleaded innocent to first-degree theft in the Feb. 18 incident on Churchill Downs Lane. He is being held on $10,000 bail.

Pasco police were called at 9:42 p.m. to the 6100 block of Thistledown Drive after reports that two suspicious men with a bolt cutter were attempting to take a trailer.

Cardoza reportedly told officers that his friend had asked him to move the Jet Skis to the east side of Pasco. When officers couldn't reach the legal owner, they had the Jet Skis towed and impounded "for safekeeping" pending further investigation, court documents said.

Cardoza was arrested on an unrelated felony warrant from Umatilla County.

The following night, police got a report two jet skis had been stolen from the 3400 block of Churchill Downs Lane. A skid mark was followed from the owner's driveway to where police had found Cardoza and the trailer they impounded the night before, documents said.

Cardoza, who still was in jail on the warrant, was then charged with the theft.

w Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531;