Indian Country Criminal Prosecutions Plateau, Bobcats May Be Behind Missing Albuquerque Pets

Nov 21, 2018

Indian Country Criminal Prosecutions Plateau - By Mary Hudetz, Associated Press

Federal figures show the number of Indian Country crimes that the U.S. Justice Department prosecutes has not shown significant change in recent years, despite new programs and attempts to boost public safety on reservations and prosecution rates of sexual assaults and other crimes.

The Justice Department report obtained by The Associated Press shows U.S. attorneys' offices declined to prosecute 37 percent of the Indian Country cases they considered resolved in 2017. That figure was up three points from 2016.

The report shows federal prosecutors usually decided to drop cases after determining they didn't have enough evidence to go to trial.

A quarter of the unprosecuted cases stemmed from reported sexual assaults. A third resulted from other reported assaults, a crime category that includes domestic violence cases.

The report comes amid heightened concerns in Congress and tribal communities over crimes against Native American women.

New Mexico City, Utility Proposal Solar Energy Partnership Associated Press

Officials in New Mexico's most populous city are partnering with the state's largest electricity provider to build a new solar generating station and boost the amount of renewable energy used to power municipal facilities throughout Albuquerque.

Mayor Tim Keller said Wednesday the goal is to reduce the city's electricity bill. Right now, about $1.2 million a month is spent to power city buildings.

Under the arrangement with Public Service Co. of New Mexico, Albuquerque would commit to purchasing half of the electricity that would be generated by the proposed 50 megawatt solar plant. The remainder would be available to other interested municipalities and tribes.

PNM will be issuing a request for proposals to build the plant, but the cost and location have yet to be determined. State regulatory approval also will be needed.

Residents Blame Roaming Bobcats For Slew Of Missing PetsKOAT-TV, Associated Press

Some Albuquerque residents say bobcats could be responsible for the disappearance of several pets.

KOAT-TV reports residents say bobcats have been spotted near their homes. They say they have seen at least one female bobcat and her three kittens.

Residents say none of the bobcats have been aggressive, but they believe the animals are responsible for several missing cats, chickens and a duck.

Surveillance cameras at one home captured a bobcat walking through a yard with what appears to be some sort of animal in its mouth.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish says bobcats are in every county in New Mexico. They seldom travel more than a few miles from home and adapt more easily to areas where people live.

Missing Portrait Of Santa Fe's Only Female Mayor Returns The Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

The portrait of Santa Fe's only female mayor, which mysteriously disappeared two decades ago, is back at City Hall.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports former Mayor Debbie Jaramillo's image returned to a wall of former mayors this week after years of a bizarre chain of events that had left no trace of Jaramillo's tenure.

For years, there wasn't even a blank space between images of her predecessor and her successor.

Jaramillo had said she suspected her portrait had been stolen.

Santa Fe spokesman Matt Ross deferred comment on the new portrait to City Clerk Yolanda Vigil, saying she had been working on arrangements with Jaramillo.

New Mexico Election Official Seeks Same-day Registration - Associated Press

New Mexico's top election regulator says she will urge state lawmakers to allow same-day voter registration and to open major party primary elections to independent voters.

Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Tuesday that she will back legislation that helps sustain voter engagement after record-setting turnout in the midterm election.

The Legislature convenes in January with an expanded Democratic majority in the House of Representatives as control of the governor's office passes from Republican Susana Martinez to Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Toulouse Oliver also expressed support for expanding automated voter registration that is available at state motor vehicle offices to the Human Services Department that administers Medicaid and food stamps programs.

Election regulators are in the process of fully verifying Nov. 6 election results.

Race For Next New Mexico GOP Chair Draws 2 Familiar Faces - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The race for the next chairman of New Mexico's Republican Party days after historic defeats is drawing at least two familiar faces.

The Albuquerque Journal reports outgoing U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Hobbs Republican, and businessman John Rockwell have announced they will seek the job.

The 71-year-old Pearce recently was defeated in the governor's race by Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, who got about 57 percent of the votes cast in the contest. Rockwell, who is 67, unsuccessfully sought the position in 2016.

The state GOP's central committee will meet Dec. 8 in Albuquerque to pick a successor to Ryan Cangiolosi, who is not seeking re-election as party chairman.

The party chairman post is a volunteer position that oversees staffers, coordinates fundraising and messaging efforts and helps identify potential candidates.

Judge Says New Mexico Counties Not At Fault In Escapee Attack  - Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

A federal judge says two New Mexico counties did not violate a Roosevelt County employee's civil rights after an escaped inmate beat him with a pickaxe.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports U.S. District Court Judge James Browning recently ruled in favor of Eddy and Roosevelt counties in a civil rights lawsuit filed by Roosevelt County employee Leroy Manzanares stemming from a 2014 attack.

Authorities say Senovio Mendoza Jr., a Carlsbad man being held at the Roosevelt County Detention Center, on a murder charge, hit Manzanares in the head with a pickaxe, bound him with duct tape, and then stole his county truck.

Deputies say Mendoza was on work release at the time.

Mendoza then led police on a high-speed chase to Sudan, Texas, before being captured.

Former Navajo Nation Employee Given Jail Time For Forgery - Associated Press

A former community service coordinator in Twin Lakes on the Navajo Nation has been sentenced to jail for forgery.

Ronda Leonard began serving her 90-day sentence in tribal jail Monday. She'll be on probation when released.

She also must repay $14,200 and write an apology that will be published in the Navajo Times.

Leonard had pleaded guilty to 32 charges. Authorities say she was authorized to sign checks for community expenses, but she forged signatures on some to benefit herself and her common-law husband.

Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch says Leonard took advantage of a position of trust, and deprived children, veterans and elders from receiving services. The tribe says Leonard manipulated computer software and prevented other employees from accessing records.

Twin Lakes is north of Gallup, New Mexico.

Investigation Dropped Against Former Santa Fe Mayor - Associated Press

A New Mexico district attorney says the statute of limitations prevents him from bringing charges against former Mayor Javier Gonzales in connection with decades-old accusations of sexual assault. Gonzales has vehemently denied the accusations by a female relative.

Democratic District Attorney Marco Serna announced Tuesday that too much time lapsed before the complaint was brought to the attention of his office and state police for charges to be filed.

Serna also says a timeline could not be established to support a sexual-assault related charge.

Gonzales says the allegations previously were debunked during divorce and child-custody proceedings. Gonzales is a former state chairman of the Democratic Party.

Santa Fe voters made him the city's first openly gay mayor in 2014. He declined to run for a second term last year.

Navajo Man No Longer Faces Death Penalty In Officer Killing - The Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Federal prosecutors will not pursue the death penalty in a case of a Navajo man accused of killing a tribal police officer.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Officer Houston Largo was killed in March 2017 during a traffic stop north of Thoreau.

Authorities charged Kirby Cleveland, alleging he recounted shooting a police officer to his wife after the killing.

It is unclear why U.S. Attorney John Anderson pulled back from plans to pursue capital punishment in the case. A spokesman declined to comment on Monday beyond a one-page motion filed by prosecutors in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

A federal judge had set a three-day hearing on the motions for next week.

Prosecutors have moved to cancel and re-set the hearing.

The Navajo Nation opposes the death penalty.

Agency Reports Hepatitis A Outbreak In Albuquerque Area - Associated Press

The New Mexico Department of Health is investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A in the Albuquerque area.

The department says that since the end of October it has confirmed four acute infections in adults and that the outbreak has primarily involved people who are homeless and injecting drugs.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

According to the department, hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter, from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected person.