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O.C. to pay city of Orange up to $340,000 a year to avoid suit on housing of federal inmates at county jail

September 23, 2010 |  3:28 pm

Orange County agreed this week to pay the city of Orange up to $340,000 a year to stave off a potential lawsuit regarding the housing of federal immigration detainees at a county jail within the city limits.

The Sheriff’s Department reached an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement this summer to house up to 838 detainees at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange and the James A. Musick Facility near Irvine, which would bring in an estimated $35 million to the department and help close its budget gap.

But the central Orange County community of Orange raised early objections, saying the move would violate a 1995 agreement it has with the county concerning the Theo Lacy Facility, which is across the street from the bustling Block at Orange shopping center.

Orange City Manager John Sibley had said the city was considering a lawsuit. In addition to the annual payout -- which amounts to 1.5% of what the county will get per detainee per day -– the city will pay only about $5,000 a year to use the Sheriff’s Department shooting range. It currently pays three times that. 

In return, the city has agreed not to sue. The agreement was approved on a 4-1 vote Tuesday, with Supervisor John Moorlach casting the lone negative vote.

Moorlach said he felt shaken down and "violated" by the payout.

-- Raja Abdulrahim