Three new Los Alamos Police officers, from left, Cpl. Samantha Terrazas, Cpl. Curtis Salazar and Cpl Dominic Perez were sworn in June 8 at the Los Alamos Justice Center. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Los Alamos Police Cpl. John Harris, center, is pictured with LAPD command staff Oct. 15 from left, Cmdr. Preston Ballew, Deputy Chief Jason Wardlow Herrera, Chief Dino Sgambellone and Cmdr. Oliver Morris following his swearing in by Los Alamos Magistrate Judge Pat Casados. Photo Courtesy LAPD
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
A series of break-ins and thefts at Los Alamos County Facilities at the Pajarito Cliffs Site east of the airport kicked off the year for Los Alamos Police Department. On Jan. 8, LAPD requested the assistance of the public in identifying two suspects in photos obtained from video footage at the site.
On Feb. 8, a Ford F350 truck with a flat bed and a dump feature was stolen from the site. Police believed the keys were left in the truck and that the thieves climbed the fence and left by crashing the truck through the automatic gate.
LAPD announced Feb. 17 that officers were involved in an overnight shooting while investigating suspicious activity at the County facilities. During the incident, shots were fired by police and a vehicle was pursued into Rio Arriba County. The chase ended at Corlett Street in Espanola where the suspects took off on foot. The investigation was turned over to New Mexico State Police.
First Judicial District Attorney Marco P. Serna notified Police Chief Dino Sgambellone in September that Cpl. Jemuel Montoya’s discharge of his firearm during the Feb. 17 incident was cleared.
“Based on a complete review of the information submitted to the District Attorney’s Office, the evidence indicates that the discharge of Officer Jemuel Montoya’s weapon was justified and that there is no evidence to suggest Officer Montoya was unlawful in discharging his firearm given the immediate threat of death he was placed in,” Serna’s letter stated.
By the end of February, LAPD had arrested and charged Antonio Trujillo of Santa Fe and issued arrest warrants for his brother Gregorio Trujillo. The two men were eventually sentenced in August. Despite multiple prior convictions, Gregorio Trujillo ended up with a sentence of 8 ½ years, with 4 ½ years suspended and four years of incarceration followed by 4 ½ years of supervised probation. Under the terms of a global plea agreement, 19 charges in Los Alamos County alone were dismissed against Gregorio Trujillo including four counts of larceny, three counts of burglary and 12 counts of breaking and entering.
Antonio Trujillo will be incarcerated until 2022 because his conditional discharge on prior charges was revoked. In addition, he was sentenced to 13 ½ years with 9 ½ years suspended and five years of probation. Multiple charges against him were also dismissed including two counts of receiving a stolen vehicle, seven counts of larceny, criminal damage to property, aggravated fleeing of an officer, three counts of non-residential burglary and 11 counts of breaking and entering. Each of the men is required to pay half the restitution amount of $30,436,20.
In January, Amy Woods of Los Alamos was arrested and charged with embezzlement of $3,500 from the Los Alamos Council on Cancer. Woods was president of the Council when the theft occurred. She allegedly made seven ATM withdrawals of $500 daily from Dec. 15 through Dec. 21, 2017 from Los Alamos National Bank. On Feb. 23, the embezzlement charge in Los Alamos Magistrate Court was dismissed by Assistant District Attorney Kent Wahlquist because Woods was accepted into the Pre-Prosecution Division Program.
Also in January, former Los Alamos County detention officer and Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputy Dustin Bingham, 37, will sentenced to more than four years in prison on five counts of criminal sexual contact with minors.
Chief District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer finally sentenced Allan Houle in Santa Fe after two previous postponements due to the her concerns about inconsistencies in plea agreements. She reviewed a plea agreement for Houle presented by Assistant District Attorney Kent Wahlquist several months prior under which Houle would plead guilty to two counts of trafficking of methamphetamine. At that time, Wahlquist argued for four years of incarceration and Judge Marlowe Sommer immediately questioned the distinction between Houle and another defendant convicted just days earlier, Anthony Knief, who also was arrested during the March 2017 Operation Spring Cleaning drug sting in Los Alamos.
Knief was sentenced to nine years of incarceration for each of two trafficking charges but Judge Marlowe Sommer suspended the two sentences, which were to run consecutively and placed him on supervised probation for five years. Eighteen other drug-related charges were dismissed under Knief’s plea agreement. Houle was sentenced to nine years of incarceration on the first trafficking count with all but two years and the amount of time he had already spent on electronic monitoring suspended and to be served on supervised probation. On the second trafficking count, Houle received a sentence of two years of incarceration with the first to be spent in the Los Alamos Detention Center and the second on house arrest with electronic monitoring.
Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has not yet solved a Feb. 1 road rage incident in which a 40-year-old Los Alamos National Laboratory employee was shot in the head while traveling home from Los Alamos to Santa Fe on N.M. 502 between the N.M. 30 turn off for Espanola and Pojoaque High School.
A 56-year-old Las Vegas man, Ronald B. Schawrtz died from injuries he sustained when he was struck in the head by a rock Feb. 5 at a White Rock gas station. LAPD reported that Schwartz was standing by his vehicle at the Phillips 66 Gas Station at N.M. 4 and Rover Boulevard when a rock was randomly launched by a New Mexico Department of Transportation grass mower at the Giant Gas Station on the other side of the road. The rock flew a distance of 480 feet and struck Swartz in the head.
On Feb. 23, LAPD Dispatcher Mario Pratti graduated from the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Telecommunicator Class as valedictorian. On Dec. 14, Cari Mace graduated from her NMLEA Telecommunicator Class, also as valedictorian.
Also on Feb. 23, Karyne Archuleta, 54, of Espanola was bound over to First Judicial District Court Friday on a charge of embezzlement of more than $17,500 from her former employer, Annette Wyrauch, owner of Physical Therapy Plus in Los Alamos. Court documents filed by LAPD Det. Joseph Robinson allege that during Archuleta’s employment as office manager at the business, $37,544.80 in cash was logged into the computer system but only $20,440.60 was deposited in the bank.
The documents state that because Archuleta was the person in charge of handling the money that was brought into all three branches of the business and there is was no record of her ever finding a shortage when the cash for deposit to the bank was brought to her, it is believed that she embezzled $17,504.20 from the business. Archuleta pleaded not guilty and multiple pretrial hearings have been scheduled over the past few months in District Court. Jury selection is presently scheduled for June 12, 2019.
Tyson Collins was found guilty of solicitation and sexual exploitation of children charges in connection with his online contact with a 15-year-old Los Alamos girl after she posted on an app called “Whisper” asking for log-information for Netflix. He was sentenced in District Court to 12 ½ years with all 12 ½ years suspended and placed on five years supervised probation.
On March 8, LAPD officers conducted active shooter/threat training for staff at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos. The training included scenarios in which the participants had the opportunity to learn how the would respond and could responded to a threat in a controlled environment.
LAPD Chief Dino Sgambellone and Community Liaison Sgt. Chris Ross made recommendations to the Los Alamos Schools board Mar. 13 for perimeter security, access control and key card access at local schools.
District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ordered Adrian Trujillo, 30, of Hernandez to remain in incarceration until July 16 and receive an unsatisfactory discharge from probation following a probation violation hearing. Trujillo was originally charged in 2015 with false imprisonment, aggravated battery against a household member, assault with intent to commit a felony against a household member, and battery against a household member. In 2016 he was charged with an additional two charges of battery against a household member. All Trujillo’s charges involve the same victim.
The Los Alamos Police Department was awarded National Accreditation Mar. 24 through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agents (CALEA). Chief Sgambellone, Cmdr. Oliver Morris and the Department’s Accreditation Manager Sgt. Daniel Roberts accepted the award at the CALEA conference in Frisco, Texas. County Manager Harry Burgess was also in attendance.
LAPD Detention Center Sgt. Chris Romero retired April 3 after serving with LAPD since 2002. Romero began his law enforcement career in 1995 at the Department of Corrections. He was presented with a Medal of Merit by Chief Sgambellone in recognition of his service.
LAPD Officer Ben Irving was promoted to Sergeant April 7. He is a six year veteran of the Department.
Two New Mexico law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2017 were honored at a May 15 ceremony hosted by the LAPD. Lea County Sheriff Stephen Ackerman, 46, died in a single-vehicle accident on his way to join other sheriffs from around the state who were meeting with the state legislature. Navajo Division of Public Safety Tribal Police Ofc. Houston James Largo, 27, died in March 2017 from gunshot wounds he received while responding to a domestic violence call.
On May 17, LAPD officers participated in the 42-mile 2018 Special Olympics Torch Run in support of local Special Athletes.
Bryce Delano, 30, of Los Alamos was arrested in March and charged with criminal sexual penetration and false imprisonment in connection with a March 10 incident at the Holiday Inn Express in Los Alamos. Bryce Delano, a front desk clerk at the hotel, is accused of pushing his way into a room that was being cleaned by a colleague and allegedly forcing her to have sex with him.
An affidavit for an arrest warrant was filed MArch 20 in Los Alamos Magistrate Court by Los Alamos Police Det. Joey Robinson and a warrant was signed by Judge Pat Casados the same day.
Andrew Brown of Colorado Springs was arrested in June on a warrant from Los Alamos Magistrate Court and charged with false reporting and harassment in connection with an ongoing cyber harassment case involving a Los Alamos woman. After four stipulated continuances in the case, sentencing has been slated for Jan. 11, 2019.
LAPD and Los Alamos Fire Department participated July 27 in several joint law enforcement/EMS active shooter scenarios at Pinion School along with other law enforcement and EMS agencies including New Mexico Department of Corrections, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Santa County Fire Department, the Los Alamos Chaplain Corps, Classic Air Medical, LANL Occupational Health, Los Alamos County Emergency Management and Arriba County. The training was facilitated by instructors from the National Center for Biomedical Research & Training Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Gustavo Salaiz, 19, of Los Alamos pleaded guilty July 31 in Los Alamos Municipal Court to a charge of indecent exposure and received a 90-day jail sentence with 80 of those days suspended. He was placed on supervised probation for six months.The charge stemmed from a June 28 incident at Mesa Public Library during which Salaiz exposed himself to a female patron. The patron reported to Los Alamos Police officers that Salaiz walked up to her while she was sitting at a desk and exposed his penis to her. As Salaiz left the scene, he glanced over his shoulder and the patron took a photo of him. Indecent exposure is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.
Los Alamos County Council voted July 31 to establish an ad hoc committee to consider future alternatives for the Los Alamos Animal Control Shelter. The committee has been meeting regularly however no results have yet been presented to the County Council.
Santa Fe Magistrate Court Judge George Anaya, Jr., dismissed without prejudice four charges Aug. 1 against Fidel J. Naranjo, 52, of Los Alamos in connection to a May 31 incident in Santa Fe County where Naranjo allegedly shot another man, Michael Gonzales, in the leg. Charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of negligent use of a firearm were dismissed because of “failure of the prosecutor to proceed within time limits”.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, Sachin Pandey, 31, was granted a conditional discharge and placed on three years of supervised probation Nov. 14 in District Court. Pandey was arrested in September 2017 and charged with aggravated battery, false imprisonment and attempt to commit a felony – sexual assault in connection with an incident Sept. 24, 2017 at Camp May. Pandey pleaded no contest to the aggravated battery charge and the other two charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Sarah Manzanares, 42 of Los Alamos was arrested Oct. 15 and faces five charges in Los Alamos Magistrate Court after allegedly taking off on foot Oct. 13 from the scene of an accident on Diamond Drive allegedly leaving several children in her vehicle. LAPD Cpl. Amos Smith responded to the scene of the accident where his report indicates that a vehicle driven by Manzanares struck another vehicle, then turned back into traffic and exited Diamond at an access road where the vehicle stuck a partially-closed gate and stopped. Smith’s report said he found a glass with no lid that was half-full of “what appeared to be wine” and a container “containing marijuana wax”.
Manzanares was charged with abandonment of a child, open container, possession of a controlled substance, no registration and no insurance. On Dec. 14 Judge Casados accepted a plea agreement in the case which found Manzanares guilty of two abandonment of a child charges and dismissed three more abandonment of a child charges as well as charges if failure to give immediate notice of an accident, no evidence of registration, no evidence of insurance and open container. Another charge originally filed as possession of more than 8 oz. of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids was changed to careless driving and dismissed.
A 33-year old Espanola man, Fernando War, racked up eight charges Nov. 17 after an alleged hit and run incident on East Jemez Road in Los Alamos. He was charged with failure to submit immediate notice of an accident, aggravated driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, driving on a suspended license, possession of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia and open container. A pre-trial hearing is set for Jan. 4 in Magistrate Court.
LAPD Officer Eric Wilhoit was promoted to Sergeant Dec. 5 and sworn in by Judge Pat Casados.
Magistrate Judge Pat Casados bound Alan Wilson over to First Judicial District Court Dec. 7 on 10 counts of criminal sexual penetration in the first degree with a child under 13 and 20 counts of criminal sexual contact with a minor. Wilson remains under house arrest and on electronic monitoring at his parent’s home in Albuquerque pending the outcome of the case. Arraignment is set for Jan. 2, 2019 in district court.
Austin Cox will remain in custody pending trial, Chief Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ordered Dec. 12 following a dangerousness hearing in Santa Fe. Cox was arrested Dec. 4 and charged with 23 counts of criminal sexual penetration of a 13-16 year old, three counts of trafficking a controlled substance and four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Cox has also been charged in two cases of possession of a controlled substance. Preliminary hearings in those cases have been continued until he is evaluated for competency to stand trial on all three cases.