Report Puts NM At No. 34 For Education Spending, Police Want Treasure Hunt To End

Jun 20, 2017

Report Puts New Mexico At No. 34 For Education SpendingThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

A report by the Census Bureau ranks New Mexico as 34th in the nation for its public education spending.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Census Bureau released their findings last week. The report took from nationwide data from 2014-15. According to the Census Bureau, New Mexico spent $9,752 per student during those years, 14 percent less than the national average for that period.

In comparison, Utah spent around $6,500 per student, while New York invested a hefty $21,206.

Experts found that despite those amounts, the state's proficiency scores and graduation rates are behind New York's by less than 10 percent while Utah's graduation rate exceeds New Mexico.

The bureau's data shows that New Mexico has slowly been increasing the money it puts toward students since 2012.

Police Implore New Mexico Author To End Treasure HuntThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico's top law enforcement officer is asking the author and antiquities dealer who inspired thousands to comb remote corners of the West in vain for a chest of gold and jewels to end the treasure hunt.

The plea from New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas follows what authorities believe is the latest death related to the hunt for Forrest Fenn's hidden treasure.

Kassetas told the Santa Fe New Mexican that Fenn should retrieve the treasure from wherever he hid it and "stop this nonsense."

Fenn says he's been considering how to make the search safer or cancel it altogether but hasn't made any decisions.

The New Mexico Search and Rescue team is reaching out to the public through a survey for their thoughts on whether Fenn should call off the search.

Bernalillo County DA Wants Changes In Case Management Orders – Albuquerque Journal

The District Attorney for Bernalillo County wants the state Supreme Court to modify rules designed to speed up trials and reduce jail crowding because he says they have fostered a spike in crime.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Raúl Torrez released a report Monday outlining problems with the case management order, which took effect in February 2015.

Torrez contends the strict deadlines have led to more trials rather than plea agreements as well as more case dismissals. He says defense attorneys are “gaming” those deadlines. Torrez wants judges to have more leeway in making decisions in when prosecutors miss deadlines.

Defense attorneys told the Journal the case management order has improved the justice system. The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council will consider Torrez’s report this week and send it to the state Supreme Court.

Grand Jury Files Charges Against Former New Mexico SenatorAssociated Press

A grand jury has charged a former New Mexico state senator with perjury, fraud and embezzlement in connection with campaign finance activities and disclosure reports.

Details of a grand jury indictment confirmed on Monday show that 22 new charges have been filed against former Sen. Phil Griego in state district court in Santa Fe.

Griego already is awaiting trial on allegations that he used his position as a senator to profit from the 2014 sale of a state-owned building in downtown Santa Fe by pushing the transaction through the Legislature without proper disclosure. Griego pleaded not guilty.

Concerns referred to state Attorney General Hector Balderas by the Secretary of State's Office led to twenty-two new criminal counts.

Griego resigned from the Senate last year amid an ethics investigation.

Six Killed In I-10 Pileup Caused By DustAssociated Press

Police now say six people are dead, including an infant from Phoenix, after a multiple-car pileup on Interstate 10 in New Mexico near the Arizona state line.

Police say winds and a dust storm abruptly blew in on westbound I-10 near Lordsburg, New Mexico, on Monday around 5 p.m.

Among those killed were a 9-month-old girl from Phoenix, two people from El Paso, Texas, and an Escondido, California man.

Five of the six killed died on scene in the crash that involved 18 commercial trucks and seven passenger cars.

Authorities reopened the highway on Thursday after a long closure to investigate.

Albuquerque Man Facing Federal Prison Term In ID Theft CaseAssociated Press

An Albuquerque man has pleaded guilty to an aggravated identity theft charge and is facing a federal prison sentence.

Prosecutors say 50-year-old Kenneth Webb entered his plea Monday in federal court in Albuquerque.

Webb admitted to conspiring with several co-defendants to defraud financial institutions in 2015.

He was accused of possessing mail and bank account, debit card and credit card numbers stolen from other people.

Webb also was charged with possessing counterfeit checks, fake New Mexico state identification cards and stolen IDs.

Prosecutors say Webb is facing a mandatory penalty of two years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

His sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.

Public Defense Assigned To Suspect In New Mexico ShootingsAssociated Press

A 21-year-old man charged with multiple counts of murder in connection with a shooting spree last week across northern New Mexico will receive legal representation from public defenders at the state's capital crimes unit.

New Mexico Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur said Monday that Damian Herrera is unable to pay for his own defense and has been assigned to public attorneys who specialize in severe criminal charges.

Herrera is accused by police and prosecutors of fatally shooting his stepfather, brother and mother at the family's home in La Madera on Thursday. Authorities say Herrera then traveled 200 miles across New Mexico and fatally shot two more people before his arrest the same day.

Baur says Herrera will plead not guilty to provide defense attorneys with access to evidence.

Pastor's Disappearance Reignites Debate Over Treasure HuntAssociated Press

Police say a body has been found along the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico not far from where a Colorado pastor parked his vehicle before heading out to search for a supposed hidden cache of gold and jewels.

Authorities have yet to identify the body, but the case of missing pastor Paris Wallace of Grand Junction has reignited calls by some for the treasure hunt to come to an end.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said author Forrest Fenn should put an end to the hunt.

In 2016, another Colorado man died in the New Mexico backcountry while searching for a bounty that Fenn said he stashed somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. It has inspired thousands to search in vain across remote corners of New Mexico, Yellowstone National Park and elsewhere.

In the latest case, crews began looking for Wallace last week after his family reported him missing.

Fenn told the New Mexican the disappearance is tragic and he has been considering ways to make the hunt safer, or possibly halt the whole thing, but that he has not made a decision.

NM State Police Rescue Hostages After Chase, ShootoutAssociated Press

New Mexico State police have identified a man they say held more than a dozen people hostage inside a roadside store north of Alamogordo where he fled after exchanging gunfire with pursuing officers.

Police say a SWAT team went into the McGinn's Pistachio Farm store Sunday afternoon, freed the 14 hostages and arrested 21-year-old Kaleb Scroggins. They say Scroggins has a lengthy arrest record.

Alamogordo police had been seeking Scroggins after a shooting earlier Sunday, spotted his vehicle and gave chase. State police say he drove into traffic on U.S. Highway 54 and was broadsided. Jumping out, he exchanged gunfire with officers before running into the store.

Otero County sheriff's and state police negotiators tried to talk Scroggins into surrendering, but eventually the SWAT team had to go inside.

April Tax Revenues Boost New Mexico State FinancesAssociated Press

New Mexico state government is reporting a surge in tax revenues that may help ease lingering budget difficulties.

The Legislative Finance Committee on Monday said that revenues in April increased by 7.7 percent to $587 million over same month in 2016.

The increase in tax revenues has been led by retail and business transactions, along with resurgent oil production.

Revenues are still lagging for the 10-month period that started in July 2016, trailing the prior fiscal year by about $21 million.

New Mexico expects to narrowly fulfill a $6.1 billion spending plan for the coming fiscal year by drawing down reserves and using money for construction projects to shore up its general fund.

April oil production in the state increased by 3.4 percent from a year ago.

Albuquerque Officer Identified In Shooting Of Murder SuspectAssociated Press

New Mexico State Police have identified the officer involved in the fatal shooting of a man wanted for the murder of his ex-girlfriend.

Authorities say the shooting occurred May 26 at a home in San Rafael near Grants when state police and officers with Albuquerque Police Department tried to contact the suspect.

The officer who shot Hector Gamboa was identified Monday as Albuquerque Officer Nathan Cadroy-Croteau. Investigators say Cadroy-Croteau was helping a tactical team as they tried to take Gamboa into custody.

The 59-year-old suspect was accused of stabbing and killing his ex-girlfriend at her home in Albuquerque in May. He was wanted on murder, tampering with evidence and other charges in the death of Blanca Renova.

State police say the details of the case remain under investigation.

Evacuations Lifted As Fire Danger Persists In New MexicoAssociated Press

Residents in northern New Mexico have returned to their homes and a highway that was forced to close through a popular mountain range is back open as firefighters mop up after one of the blazes currently burning in the state.

Crews have contained about 80 percent of the fire that forced evacuations last week in the Jemez Mountains. Residents were allowed to return Sunday.

Monday's firefighting efforts focused on a swath of dead trees along the fire's perimeter. Hand crews are being transported to the area via helicopter and water drops are being used to control the flames.

Authorities say the blaze was sparked by an abandoned campfire.

In Sandoval County, a brush fire gave residents on the northwestern edge of Rio Rancho a scare Sunday as it sent up a long line of smoke. That fire is now 60 percent contained.