Albuquerque Cracks Down On Violent Offenders, Ledford Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion

Nov 26, 2019

Albuquerque Launches Operation Targeting Violent Offenders - Associated Press

Albuquerque officials say they're launching a new operation that will target the 15 most violent criminal offenders in the city.

The "Metro 15 Operation" announced today will be conducted by Albuquerque police in conjunction with state and Bernalillo County prosecutors and investigators from multiple agencies.

According to the announcement, an apprehension team will go after offenders on a continuously updated list prepared by the Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office.

Mayor Tim Keller said the operation is intended to focus on "the worst perpetrators of violent crime" with a narrowly targeted approach to reduce crime in the city.

Participating agencies also include investigators from the state Attorney General's Office, the state Office of Superintendent of Insurance and the state Office of Probation and Parole.

Former Foundation Director Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion - Alamogordo Daily News, Associated Press

A former state foundation director has pleaded guilty to tax evasion after authorities say he didn't include more than $1 million allegedly embezzled on his taxes.

Alamogordo Daily News reported that 65-year-old former Robert W. Hamilton Foundation director Marion Ledford entered his plea Monday in Las Cruces federal court.

The Internal Revenue Service says Ledford filed tax returns for 2011 to 2016 but did not report an additional 1.7 million allegedly embezzled through more than 60 personal checks.

Ledford agreed to pay the foundation restitution for the embezzled funds.

Authorities say the plea agreement requires Ledford to pay the IRS about $629,000 in lost tax revenue. He faces up to five years imprisonment.

The Robert W. Hamilton Foundation provides scholarships to Otero County high school graduates.

Accountability Report Lags On Campaign Finance Reporting - Associated Press

New Mexico election regulators have not completed a required spot check for campaign-finance compliance since the 2016 election cycle, amid escalating private spending on elections and a shifting enforcement landscape.

The Secretary of State's Office is responsible for reviewing a random sampling of filings by candidates and political committees to ensure accountability.

Agency spokesman Alex Curtas indicates that a review for the 2018 election cycle is under way. Today the State Canvassing Board prepared to certify results of this year's Nov. 5 election.

The 2016 review of 106 randomly selected candidates and political committees found an unregistered nonprofit that contributed to the campaign of the Republican House speaker, a prohibited gun raffle by the Republican Party and improper campaign spending on compression shorts and a chiropractor.

Court Official: New Mexico's Bail Reforms Are Working - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

A top official with New Mexico's court system says bail reforms are working and the state is moving in the right direction.

Artie Pepin, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, appeared Monday in Santa Fe before a panel of state lawmakers. His testimony comes as critics contend the voter-approved system has allowed for the release of violent and dangerous offenders.

Pepin disputed those claims, pointing to a new study by the University of New Mexico's Institute for Social Research that shows the majority of people released pending trial will show up for subsequent court hearings and aren't committing new crimes.

The researchers reviewed the cases of nearly 6,400 defendants over 21 months.

Pepin says the study shows bail reforms are not to blame for Albuquerque's high crime rates.

Lawmakers, Enforcers Weigh Response To El Paso Mass Shooting - Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has convoked a second meeting of legislators and law enforcement officials in response to the August mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

In a statement on Monday, the first-year Democratic governor described a meeting with the state attorney general, state House speaker and U.S. Congressional delegation on possible action to decrease the risk of home-grown terrorism in New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham says the discussion centered on access to weapons, possible tougher penalties for "domestic terrorism" and more robust data tracking. She stressed the importance of evidence-based reforms.

The Aug. 3 shooting at an El Paso Walmart killed 22 people and took place within 10 miles of New Mexico. The state Legislature convenes in mid-January to consider possible safety reforms.

Bob Davie To Step Aside As Coach At The University Of New Mexico - Associated Press

Bob Davie has agreed to step aside as the University of New Mexico's football coach at the end of the season, ending an uneven eight-season tenure with the Lobos.

Davie and athletic director Eddie Nuñez announced Monday that the former Notre Dame coach will step down after Saturday's game against Utah State, calling it a mutual decision.

"After meeting with coach Davie this morning, we both agree that the time has come for a new direction for our football program," Nuñez said in a statement. "I'm appreciative of the work that coach Davie has done at UNM."

UNM is 2-9 this season and has lost its last eight games.

Davie is 35-63 at the university but twice guided the Lobos to bowl games and earned New Mexico's first bowl victory in 10 years.

Sanders, Warren Attract Most Dollars From New Mexicans - Associated Press

New Mexico residents are throwing their financial support in the presidential race primarily behind candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

An analysis of campaign contributions by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics shows the two notably progressive candidates for the Democratic nomination have raised more dollars from individuals in New Mexico than other candidates. The estimates do not include recent donations of under $200.

Campaign committees for Sanders have raised at least $379,000, trailed closely by Warren. Pete Buttigieg raised at least $239,000 locally. That's more than twice the tally for former Vice President Joe Biden.

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Fred Harris says New Mexico is closely tracking national trends in fundraising.

Warren last week tapped U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland of Albuquerque as a co-chairwoman of her presidential campaign.

New Mexico Livestock Board Gets New Executive Director - Associated Press

For the first time, a woman will lead the New Mexico Livestock Board.

The state Agriculture Department says Belinda Garland was appointed executive director of the board earlier this month.

Garland has nearly 30 years of experience in state and county government. She was most recently the deputy county manager in Torrance County and previously served as the county's manager.

Her career also includes positions with the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department, the Human Services Department and the Gaming Control Board.

Born and raised in Torrance County, Garland is a fourth-generation rancher. She earned degrees in agricultural business and animal science from Panhandle State University.

Garland will start her new job Dec. 9.

The board does patrols and inspections around the state to curb livestock diseases and theft.

Los Alamos Lab Makes Pledge To Tackle Gender Barriers - Associated Press

Los Alamos National Laboratory says it's committed to breaking down gender barriers and making equality a reality when it comes to nuclear policy.

The northern New Mexico lab made the announcement last week, saying it's the first national laboratory to make an official pledge.

The lab joined the national Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy group, a leadership network that brings together heads of organizations working in nuclear policy.

Lab Director Thom Mason says nuclear policy, like many technological fields, has long been a space dominated by men and as a result, women in the field have too often been marginalized.

With the commitment, Mason says the lab will work to bring more women into the field and foster a culture of respect.

About one-third of the lab's 12,000 employs are women.

Grant Aimed At Making Cattle Ranching More Sustainable - Associated Press

New Mexico State University is getting a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study how to make cattle ranching more sustainable.

The $8.9 million grant has been awarded to NMSU's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

The work is geared toward improving the sustainability of beef production in the southwestern U.S., where environmental conditions are driving up the cost of raising cattle.

The researchers will be looking at cattle genetics, the use of sensors and technology to more accurately understand what's occurring on the range and options for marketing Southwest beef.

The grant will support research for the next five years and involve as many as 50 people from 12 institutions. That includes five cattle ranches located in New Mexico, Utah, California and South Dakota.