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Arrest Made in Hit-and-Run

Police charge brother of suspected driver in November hit-and-run death.

A 35-year-old Herndon man has been charged by Herndon Police with failing to report a deadly accident in connection with the hit-and-run death last year of Herndon resident Joseph Passarelli.

Jose Orlando Espinoza Sibrian, the brother of suspected hit-and-run driver Jose Santos Sibrian Espinoza, was arrested by Herndon detectives on Monday, June 18. Police believe that he was a passenger of the 1997 Ford Mustang that struck and killed Passarelli as he walked his dog in the early morning hours of Nov. 20, 2006.

If convicted, Jose Orlando Espinoza Sibrian could face up to five years in prison, according to Lt. Jerry Keys of the Herndon Police Department. It was not immediately made clear if he is present in the country illegally, but a detainer for possible deportation, pending the outcome of the case, has been filed for him by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE].

His brother, Jose Santos Sibrian Espinoza, who was illegally present in the United States at the time of the incident, was deported back to his native El Salvador by federal agents two days after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He has not been seen by authorities since, according to police.

There is no extradition treaty regarding El Salvadoran nationals living in El Salvador but charged with crimes in the United States.

NEWS OF THE ARREST was welcomed by Joseph Passarelli's family, who lobbied both the U.S. and El Salvadoran governments for an amendment to the extradition treaty between the two countries that would allow for Jose Santos Sibrian Espinoza's return to the United States.

"It's kind of a big relief actually," said Mike Passarelli, Joseph Passarelli's 25-year-old son, "but it's still not over, and I think that this will ultimately lead to us getting his brother."

Herndon Police refused to release details of interviews conducted with Jose Orlando Espinoza Sibrian, but said that the pursuit for his brother is continuing.

"To our knowledge the brother still isn't here at this moment," Keys said. "We're still doing the same thing and trying to find him, and that hasn't changed."