A woman cited recently on suspicion of biting her husband at work claims he cheated on her with Amanda Stanford, the new Pinal County Superior Court clerk.
Heather Ojeda, a facilities maintenance painter for Pinal County, tells New Times that she wants her husband, a Pinal County court bailiff, "humiliated" publicly following her March 11 "long-form" citation in connection with an alleged disorderly conduct and assault charge.
She wants Stanford exposed as the underlying reason for her troubles.
Ramon Ojeda, Heather's husband and alleged biting victim, agrees with his wife. He describes Stanford, a 30-year-old Republican politician who beat her former boss in November's election, as a temptress who made advances at him at work at the start of their two-and-a-half-month relationship.
The candid admissions by the couple follow our Thursday blog post about Heather Ojeda's citation. As we reported, a Florence police report states that Ojeda visited her husband at his workplace, the Pinal County Superior Court, and found him in an outside courtyard on his cell phone. (Ojeda filled in more details for us following yesterday's interview, saying she's a skilled, longtime facilities painter for the county, and that the court is her workplace, too.)
She heard her husband call someone "baby" on the phone, and he hung up upon seeing her. She grabbed the phone and ran into the court building with Ramon following. She has more access than Ramon to certain parts of the building and tried to open a locked door. When she couldn't open it immediately she put the phone in a pants pocket and sat down. Ramon reached over her to get the phone back. She bit him in the shoulder.
The bite drew blood and left tooth marks, the report states.
Heather Ojeda, as she told police, tells New Times that Ramon's shoulder and part of his arm covered her mouth as he leaned over her, and that the bite was a reflex.
Ramon went to the Florence police lobby following the squabble and reported the incident, showing an officer the wound. But now he backs up her story.
"It was in the heat of the moment and that was that," he says. "There never ever was a brawl, no nothing."
To back up for one moment, we should mention that this was one of the weirdest phone calls we've ever had.
Thursday's blog post about the Ojeda arrest began with a tip, (as many of our articles do, so please send more.) The tipster informed us of the alleged domestic-violence incident and that Stanford was somehow involved. We played phone tag with Stanford for a couple of days -- we left a couple of messages, she left a couple of messages with us when we unfortunately missed her phone call. Nothing in the police report mentioned Stanford. Without verification, we left her name out of our post.)
Heather Ojeda called New Times about 6 p.m. Thursday to talk about the post. She said she never got the phone message we left for her before it was published, but wanted to talk. After dropping the bomb about Stanford being her husband's mistress, she then handed the phone to her husband, who apparently was standing next to her as she spoke of his transgression. He then confessed his alleged sin -- willingly, he says.
Their story also has a nexus in politics, and not just because Stanford is an elected official. Heather Ojeda was one of three county employees with criminal convictions targeted by Sheriff Paul Babeu in 2013 in a news release blasting county hiring practices. Channel 12 News (KPNX-TV) aired a piece about the employees entitled, "Criminals for Hire?" We're not sure if Babeu tipped off Channel 12, or Channel 12 tipped off Babeu. (Babeu didn't return our phone message.) County Supervisor Pete Rios accused Babeu of using the scandal to criticize his county foes and to gain publicity.
Babeu and the TV news spot revealed that Heather Ojeda had a somewhat sensitive position with access to many Pinal County government buildings, yet she had several convictions in her past including theft, battery and aggravated assault on a police officer.
Interim County Manager Greg Stanley told the Florence Reminder in 2013 that Ojeda and the other two employees "deserve to keep their jobs." Still, the three were barred from the Sheriff's Office.
The Ojedas have been married for nine years but have been together 18. She has two kids from a different relationship who live with them. They need to be together despite all that's occurred, but she's taking it "day-to-day," she tells New Times.
Heather Ojeda says after the March 11 incident, her husband "confessed to everything" about his affair with Stanford. She emailed several screenshots of her husband's phone records, which show numerous calls to or from the same mobile-phone number used by Stanford during her campaign.
"How much more can I run with my tail tucked between my legs?" says an emotional Ojeda. "Amanda Stanford and my husband were having an affair . . . The county Human Resources department said there are no rules against it."
Ojeda says she's taking a week or so off work and hasn't been put on administrative leave following the incident. "They know I'm not the one who did anything wrong," she says.
Phone records show Stanford and her husband spent "hours" on the phone together on county time, she says. Ojeda wants a "full investigation" of Stanford's involvement.
Her husband agrees, telling New Times "it all needs to come out. If anything, I feel like the victim."
Stanford, he claims, is "pushing the envelope" by having an affair with a county employee.
"I told my husband he needs to be humiliated," Ojeda says.
We discussed Ojeda's criminal past briefly. She grew up in a "very rough" part of Chicago and admits she's got misdemeanors, though no felonies, on her record. The assault on a police officer -- it's a long story that ends with her handcuffed and spitting on an officer, not striking him. She's not proud of some parts of her past, she says, but that was all a long time ago.
"I don't get in trouble -- I have four kids," she says, adding she's also a grandmother.
Stanford, who's married with children herself, couldn't be reached for comment on Thursday evening following our call with the Ojedas. We tried her at the office this morning and got her voicemail. We'll let you know if she calls back.
Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.