Mom accused of trying to bribe home invasion victims to drop charges against son

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

WFTV learned a 52-year-old Orange County mother was arrested after police said she tried to bribe two home invasion victims into dropping the charges against her son.

Catalina Ruffin-Sinclair is charged with tampering with a witness. She bonded out of jail Wednesday night.

Ruffin-Sinclair's son, Bessman Okafor, and Nolan Bernard were arrested in connection to a home invasion that happened in May.

Bernard stayed in jail, but Okafor bonded out and was placed on home confinement.

Court records WFTV obtained said in June, Ruffin-Sinclair approached the victims of the home invasion to try to bribe them into dropping the charges. Records said she offered the victims cash and a car.

But the victims refused both times and told police. Officials said one of the surviving victims immediately identified Ruffin-Sinclair in a photo lineup as the one who tried to bribe them.

Then, on Sept. 10, the day before the victims were set to testify in the first home invasion trial, court records said a gunman burst into their Ocoee home and shot all three people, killing 19-year-old Alex Zaldivar and seriously wounding a brother and sister.

The two surviving victims are currently in protective custody.

WFTV's Lori Brown talked with the father of one of the home invasion victims who died in the attack.

Rafael Zaldivar said he is shocked that any mother would go to such great lengths to protect her son with a criminal past.

"You lost a model citizen. This guy was going to be something. (He was) smart, brilliant, outgoing," said Zaldivar of his son.

WFTV went by Ruffin-Sinclair's home, but no one answered the door on Thursday.