Fraud Charges Dropped Against NM County Manager, Proposal Would Ban Plastic Bags In Carlsbad

Oct 26, 2019

Fraud Charges Dropped Against New Mexico County Manager -Las Cruces Sun, Associated Press

A New Mexico judge dismissed multiple charges against a former county manager suspected of misusing county funds and materials.

Las Cruces Sun-News reported Thursday that four felony fraud charges stemming from a 2017 investigation into former Luna County manager Ira Pearson were dropped.

Authorities say the charges included making or permitting a false public voucher and tampering with evidence.

Authorities say a 2018 criminal complaint suspected Pearson and three other officials used county funds for work at Pearson's personal residence on county time. All but one criminal case has been dropped.

Pearson's attorney Jess Lilley says the judge agreed that there was not enough evidence for the case to go to even go to a jury.

Deputy district attorney Armand Velez did not immediately respond for comment.


Proposal Would Ban Plastic Bags In Carlsbad  -Associated Press

A southeastern New Mexico city near the state's booming oil region may become the next town to ban single-use plastic carryout bags.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports advocates in Carlsbad have drafted an ordinance aimed at ridding the city of loose plastic bags. The proposal could go before the Carlsbad City Council later this year.

The drafted ordinance calls on local businesses to find alternatives, such as reusable bags or boxes.

Albuquerque passed a ban on plastic bags, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2020. The Albuquerque proposal faced opposition with the New Mexico Restaurant Association.

Detainees Threaten Self-Harm In New Mexico Detention Center -Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press 

Immigrant advocates and lawyers in New Mexico say multiple asylum-seekers from Cuba have tried to kill themselves and staged sit-ins after being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday that 32-year-old Iosnaiqui Acosta-Columbie told the Journal that he has taken dramatic measures like cutting himself after he says he endured beatings by police and escaped the "dictatorship" to seek asylum in the U.S.

Lawyers in touch with detainees say three Cubans have tried to kill themselves this month.

ICE officials have also confirmed two self-harm incidents involving men this month.

Asylum-seekers in a detention center in Otero County have said they are deprived of their liberty for up to nine months and have requested their release.

The Otero County site has more than 1,000 inmates.

Deal Allows Montana Coal Mine to Reopen for Now -Associated Press

Montana officials say they have reached a deal that will allow one of the largest coal mines in the U.S. to reopen — for now — amid a legal dispute with its new owners from the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Transitional Energy Company took over the 275-worker Spring Creek mine this week after buying it from bankrupt Cloud Peak Energy.

The company shut down operations on Thursday, after Montana regulators insisted the company waive its immunity from future lawsuits as a tribal entity.

Company representatives objected and said they didn't want to give up their treaty rights.

A spokeswoman for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality says the two sides resolved the dispute late Friday after agreeing to a 75-day, limited waiver of immunity.

Spring Creek is Montana's largest coal mine. It produced almost 14 million tons of the fuel last year.

ESPN Events Drops Dreamhouse As New Mexico Bowl Sponsor -Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

ESPN Events has cut ties with an Albuquerque-based production company that signed on just weeks ago to sponsor the New Mexico Bowl.

ESPN spokeswoman Anna Negron tells the Albuquerque Journal in an email that it terminated the sponsorship agreement with DreamHouse on Friday and that the focus remains on ensuring a quality experience for fans.

The DreamHouse New Mexico Bowl logo and all references to it have been scrubbed from the bowl's website.

The game is scheduled to be played Dec. 21.

The newspaper had reported that the fledgling DreamHouse has no business license with the city of Albuquerque and that CEO Eric G. Martinez faced multiple judgments for unpaid debts. Martinez did not return messages seeking comment.

Stories on the Enchantment Sports website first raised questions about Martinez's background.

LGBTQ Group Endorses New Mexico Congressional Candidate -Associated Press

A national organization devoted to electing LGBTQ candidates to public office has endorsed an openly gay contender in the race for New Mexico's northern congressional district.

The LGBTQ Victory fund announced Thursday its endorsement of John Blair of Santa Fe in a crowded Democratic primary field for the open seat in 2020.

Blair served at the U.S. Interior Department under President Obama and was part of team that helped create the Stonewall National Monument to civil rights in commemoration of a 1969 uprising of New York's gay community.

Openly gay politicians in New Mexico include Republican Española Mayor Javier Sánchez and Democratic state Sen. Liz Stefanics.

Blair is running against a crowded field of contenders to succeed U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján as he runs for U.S. Senate.

Auditor Probes Travel Expenses of Cowboys For Trump Founder -Associated Press

New Mexico's Democratic state auditor is investigating a county's travel reimbursement to one of its commissioners who founded the group Cowboys for Trump.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports the Office of the State Auditor confirmed it's examining whether the reimbursement to Otero County Commission Chairman Couy Griffin violated state law.

Griffin traveled to Washington in part to attend a Sept. 12 conference with representatives from western states. A travel voucher listed a meeting with President Donald Trump as the reason for the expense.

The reimbursement of more than $3,200 included mileage for the trip made while hauling a horse trailer.

Griffin says discussions with the president were centered on county business and not done as a representative of the for-profit group.

Griffin returned the money after consulting with county officials.