Police: Illegal immigrant responsible for Pollack's death

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by Alicia E. Barrón and Stacey Delikat

azfamily.com

Posted on September 23, 2011 at 9:07 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 26 at 10:05 PM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Police confirm the man recently arrested in the hit-and-run death of a 31-year-old Scottsdale man earlier this month is an illegal immigrant.

Scottsdale detectives arrested Cristino Torres-Romero, 33, a Tempe resident, on Friday afternoon, nearly two weeks after the fatal incident. Scottsdale police Officer Dave Pubins confirmed on Monday that Torres-Romero is in the U.S. illegally.

He is suspected of being behind the wheel of a truck that struck Daniel Pollack in the early morning hours of Sept. 11.

"Nothing is going to bring my son Daniel back, but it feels reassuring to know that this person has been apprehended," said Michael Pollack, the victim's father.

Michael, a prominent Valley real estate developer, had put up a $50,000 Silent Witness reward for information leading to an arrest.

Police say they got a break in the case on Tuesday when they received an anonymous tip.

Since then the department’s Vehicle Crimes Unit followed up on information that led to the alleged suspect.

Detectives found Torres-Romero and the suspected vehicle at his Tempe apartment Friday and took him into custody. During an interview Torres-Romero apparently admitted to fleeing the scene after hitting Pollack near Hayden and Thomas roads.

Michael Pollack said he got the phone call from Scottsdale detectives that they'd arrested a suspect around 7 p.m. Friday, and he and his wife felt a great sense of relief.

Still, he said, "They say time heals, but I don't know it it will ever really totally heal the scars of losing a son."

Michael said he hopes the arrest sends a message that "you can run, you can try to hide, but they're going to find you."

At a news conference on Saturday he thanked Scottsdale police for their dedication to the case and thanked the community for support and well wishes.

Court paperwork indicates that Torres-Romero was using a stolen identity and had a job at the California Pizza Kitchen restaurant in Tempe.

According to the same court paperwork, Torres-Romero faces one count of leaving the scene of a fatal collision and is being held without bond under a 2006 ballot proposition (Prop. 100) that denies bail to illegal immigrants accused of a class 4 or higher felony. The source of legal wrangling since its passage with nearly 78 percent of the vote, a federal judge upheld the Bailable Offenses Act in April.

A preliminary hearing for Torres-Romero has been scheduled for Oct. 4.

The Pollack family issued a written statement after Scottsdale police made the arrest:

"Last week we laid our son Daniel to rest. The arrest by the Scottsdale Police Department tonight cannot bring our son back, but it does bring our family’s gratitude and appreciation to Detective Rodger Paliwoda and the entire department for a job well done. They have taken a hit and run suspect off the streets and proven that the law will do right when people do wrong. Thank you to law enforcement, the public, our friends, family and everyone who has helped and provided kind words and prayers."

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