Five Arrests From New Mexico Compound, Two Sue Trucking Company After Deadly Bus Crash

Sep 1, 2018

FBI Arrests 5 From New Mexico Compound On Firearms ChargesAssociated Press

Federal prosecutors say the FBI has arrested five former residents of a ramshackle compound in New Mexico on firearms and conspiracy charges as local prosecutors dropped charges in the death of a 3-year-old boy at the property.

Taos County District Attorney Donald Gallegos said Friday his office will now seek grand jury indictments involving the death.

Gallegos said seeking indictments will allow more time to gather evidence.

All five people will remain in custody pending a Tuesday hearing in federal court.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque said compound resident Jany Leveille has been charged with being an alien unlawfully in possession of firearms and ammunition. She is a Haitian national.

The other four members are charged with conspiring with Leveille.

State charges of child abuse resulting in death were dropped against Leveille and Siraj Ibn Wahhaj in connection with the child whose body was found earlier this month in an underground tunnel at the compound near the Colorado state line.

Two Sue Trucking Company After Deadly Bus Crash Associated Press

Two people have sued a California-based trucking company whose semitrailer crashed into a commercial bus on a New Mexico interstate, killing eight and injuring numerous others.

An Albuquerque law firm filed separate lawsuits on behalf of two bus passengers. They weren't named in the claims, but one is from Arizona, and the other is from Ohio.

Attorney Bryan Williams said there are concerns about proper maintenance and inspection of a tire.

Authorities say "tire failure" sent the semitruck careening across the median and crashing head-on into the Greyhound bus.

The complaints alleged negligence on behalf of the unnamed truck driver and JAG Transportation Inc.

They include a recent safety report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that shows the company has reported three crashes in the last 24 months.

A woman who answered the phone at the company's office Friday said no one was available to comment.

New Mexico GOP Joins Lawsuit To Stop Straight-Party Voting Associated Press

The Republican Party of New Mexico has joined a bipartisan coalition to stop a move to bring back vote a straight-party ticket in the state's upcoming general election.

The state GOP announced Friday it would join Unite New Mexico, the Libertarian Party of New Mexico, the Elect Liberty PAC, and Democratic state House candidate Heather Nordquist to file an emergency petition in the New Mexico Supreme Court to prevent the change.

The move comes after Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said this week she's formatting the ballots to allow voting in which a slate of major party candidates can be chosen all at one time.

Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi called Oliver's decision a "corrupt partisan power grab."

US Senate Hopefuls Vow To Help Trinity Test Descendants Associated Press

New Mexico's three senatorial candidates are promising to help descendants of families who lived the Trinity Test.

Democratic U.S. Senate Martin Heinrich, his Republican challenger Mick Rich and Libertarian Gary Johnson all say they would advocate for descendants to be included in a federal law that compensated families near nuclear test sites.

Currently, federal law does not include New Mexico residents and descendants who live near nuclear test sites.

Descendants say the World War II-era Trinity Test caused generations of southern New Mexico families to suffer from rare cancer and economic hardship.

Residents did not learn that the test had involved an atomic weapon until the U.S. dropped bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the war ended.

Court: Fair Pay For Women Act Applies To State Employees Associated Press and The Santa Fe New Mexican

An appeal court has rejected the Corrections Department's argument that the Fair Pay for Women Act doesn't apply to state employees.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports female New Mexico government employees filed lawsuits against the department claiming that they were being paid less than their male counterparts.

The department had argued that a 2013 law that prohibited wage discrimination based on gender and allowing workers to seek back wages did not apply to the state.

The state Court of Appeals' Thursday decision clears the way for a lawsuit for lost wages by a lawyer who had worked at the state's prison system.

The case will go back to the state District Court in Santa Fe. The department can still appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Rookie Gallup Police Officer Honored For Saving Suicidal Man Associated Press and the Gallup Independent

A rookie Gallup police officer has received an award for risking his own life to save a suicidal young man from an oncoming train that nearly missed both of them.

Gallup Police Officer Patrick Largo, who became a certified officer in May, received a Life Saving Award Tuesday for his heroic actions on Aug. 15.

He says that at the time, he didn't think about how dangerous the situation was. He says he simply knew he had to do his job.

The Gallup Independent reports that after Largo got the man to safety, Largo handcuffed the man to prevent him from trying to jump on the tracks again.

The man was eventually taken to Gallup Indian Medical Center for an evaluation.

Former State Worker Sentenced To Prison In Extortion Case Associated Press

A former New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department worker faces nearly four years in prison on federal extortion convictions.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced 45-year-old Larry Mendoza of Santa Fe and ordered him to pay over $43,000 in restitution.

Mendoza pleaded guilty Nov. 17 to a three-count criminal information filed that day.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Mendoza solicited and accepted payments totaling $2,500 from a business owner in return for reducing the business owner's tax obligation.

The office also said Mendoza acknowledged he engaged in a similar pattern of criminal conduct with other business owners and that his conduct was responsible for losses in excess of $40,000.

The department terminated Mendoza after placing him on administrative leave in May 2017.