Authorities Say Remains At Compound Are Missing Boy, Gary Johnson On U.S. Senate Bid

Aug 16, 2018

Authorities Say Remains At New Mexico Compound Are Missing Boy- Associated Press

Authorities say human remains found at a New Mexico desert compound have been identified as those of a missing Georgia boy with severe disabilities.

The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator said Thursday that the remains were those of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj. He was found Aug. 6 after he went missing in December in Jonesboro, Georgia.

Authorities say the boy's father, Siraj Wahhaj, had told his wife he wanted to perform a ritual on the child, later said he was taking the boy to a park and didn't return.

An arrest warrant was issued for the father. The search for the boy led authorities to the compound this month.

Wahhaj faces child abuse charges along with four other adults arrested at the compound.

Conditions Of Release Not Yet Met For Compound Suspects- Associated Press

Three people accused of child abuse at a northern New Mexico desert compound remained jailed Wednesday as New Mexico authorities sought to satisfy the conditions of their release set by a judge.

Among other things, authorities must find safe living arrangements for the defendants before they can leave jail. They also must wear ankle monitors and have regular contact with their attorneys.

The legal proceedings against the suspects will be staged in Taos, a community rattled by threats against the judge who cleared the way for the suspects to be released.

Commissioner Recuses Herself From Solar Farm Case- Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A New Mexico public regulation commissioner has recused herself from a case involving a solar company that was a major campaign contributor to her re-election campaign.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Commissioner Lynda Lovejoy filed a notice last week that she won't take part in deciding whether El Paso Electric receives approval to purchase a solar farm to be built by Affordable Solar Installation of Albuquerque.

But Public Regulation Commission Chairman Sandy Jones on Tuesday rejected a request that he also step aside from El Paso Electric's case, saying the political donations from Affordable Solar won't color his decision.

Campaign finance reports indicate Jones received at least $13,000 in contributions and Lovejoy at least $4,500 from Affordable Solar and related companies and individuals in their respective re-election bids.

New Mexico Sues Wells Fargo Over Unauthorized Accounts- Associated Press

New Mexico is suing Wells Fargo over a scandal in which the financial institution was accused of opening millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts across the nation to meet unrealistic sales quotas, state Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Thursday.

Balderas' office filed a lawsuit in district court alleging that Wells Fargo violated state laws, following major fines and penalties already levied by federal regulators because of the scandal, which severely damaged Wells Fargo's reputation.

Balderas claimed Wells Fargo opened more than 20,000 fake accounts in the name of New Mexico residents and that that the bank enrolled consumers in unauthorized products and lied to them about their status.

The lawsuit asks for Wells Fargo to be assessed a penalty of $5,000 for each unauthorized account opened for a New Mexico resident. It's also seeking similar fines for other alleged violations.

Libertarian Icon Gary Johnson On U.S. Senate Bid -  Associated Press

Former Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson  gave details Thursday about why he’s jumping in a race to unseat New Mexico’s junior U.S. senator.

Johnson told reporters at his newly minted and empty Albuquerque headquarters that his candidacy was a long shot, but he felt he had no choice given Trump's unacceptable actions on immigration and free trade.

Democrats saw his most recent presidential run, with currents of social liberalism, as a bane to their party.

Elected and re-elected governor as a Republican, Johnson stayed true to a small-government philosophy while vetoing more than 700 bills.

His open advocacy for legalized marijuana broke mainstream 1990s political taboos and made him a national curiosity.

3 Accused Of Child Abuse On New Mexico Compound To Be Freed - Morgan Lee, Associated Press

Three members of an extended family who are accused of child abuse at a ramshackle desert compound in New Mexico are awaiting release.

The Taos County courthouse heightened security Wednesday over threats against the judge who cleared the way for the defendants to get out of jail.

State District Judge Sarah Backus' decision has sparked a political uproar along with backlash on social media.

Court officials condemned threats of violence made against the judge and evacuated several court offices Tuesday as a precaution. The court complex reopened Wednesday with more security in place.

The decision to release four of the five defendants came Monday, despite prosecutors' assertions that the group was training children to use firearms for an anti-government mission and should remain in jail until trial.

U.S. immigration authorities took one of them into custody Tuesday.

Vital US Reservoir OK For Now, But Shortages Are On HorizonAssociated Press

U.S. government water managers say a vital reservoir on the Colorado River will be able to meet the demands of Mexico and Southwestern U.S. states for the next 13 months, but a looming shortage could trigger cutbacks in late 2019.

The Bureau of Reclamation released a report Wednesday on the health of the river and its biggest reservoir, Lake Mead.

The report echoes previous warnings that a long trend toward a drier regional climate coupled with rising demand could drain so much water from Lake Mead that cutbacks would be mandatory.

Mexico, Arizona and Nevada would be hit first.

The river serves 40 million people and 6,300 square miles of farmland.

New Mexico, California, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah also rely on the river.

Woman Accused Of Stealing From Albuquerque Rehab PatientsAssociated Press

State prosecutors say a former office manager at an Albuquerque rehabilitation center has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $30,000 from elderly patients who suffered from dementia.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office says Leanne Bennett could face up to three years in prison when she's sentenced in October and be required to pay more than $44,000 in restitution to the victims.

Prosecutors say Bennett worked at the Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque and allegedly used her position as office manager to steal from elderly residents between 2012 and 2013.

Bennett allegedly gained access to residents' checking accounts, ATM accounts and debit cards.

She's accused of writing checks to herself and making cash withdrawals from victims' ATM accounts across the city.

New Mexico Land Boss Says No To Offer From US Border Agency - Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

New Mexico's top land boss has rejected a proposal from the federal government to settle an easement dispute over land along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn contends the government never received authorization to access state trust land that borders the international boundary and hasn't compensated the state for using the property.

After months of negotiations, Dunn said Wednesday he's disappointed with a government appraisal that amounts to less than $9,000. He said that's a fraction of what the state should receive in easement fees.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it continues to coordinate with Dunn's office but wouldn't comment further on the on-going discussions.

The parcel in question is among millions of acres around the state that are held in trust, with the proceeds of any easements, development or leases helping to fund public education.

University Of New Mexico Braces For Larger Enrollment LossAssociated Press

University of New Mexico leaders are warning that enrollment could be significantly lower than initially projected.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the university already predicted a 2.5 percent drop, but Terry Babbitt, the school's vice provost for enrollment management and analytics, said Tuesday the drop is "going to be quite a bit bigger."

Babbitt says he had no numbers yet, as classes don't begin until Monday and fluctuations occur during the first few weeks of the semester.

But University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes prepared the university's regents for some lower-than-expected figures, saying the administration has already implemented some changes in recruiting strategy but will need an "all-hands-on-deck" approach to tackle the issue.

The university's enrollment fell 2.9 percent from the fall of 2016 to the fall of 2017 and has dropped a cumulative 9.3 percent since its 2012 peak.