Judge Orders Priest Held On Abuse Charges, FBI Stats Show Crime Increasing In New Mexico

Sep 25, 2018

FBI Says Crime Increased In New Mexico In 2017Associated Press

The FBI's latest crime statistics show New Mexico again ranks among the most dangerous states.

The FBI's report released Monday shows the rates of violent crime and property crime in the state increased in 2017.

The state ranked first in the country for burglary and robbery and second in the country for motor vehicle theft behind Alaska — an improvement from 2016.

The same report shows the violent crime and murder rates declining nationally for the first time since 2014. And even after steady increases from 2015-16, the murder rates have remained at an overall rate not seen since the 1960s.

The FBI's annual statistics can include inconsistent data or at least make for difficult comparisons between communities due to the various ways different police departments gather and categorize information.

Officials Say Foster Care Improving Despite Lawsuit – Associated Press

Officials at the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department and the state's Human Services Department dispute a critical federal class-action lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed Saturday by 13 children in state foster care, Disability Rights New Mexico and the Native American Disability Law Center, alleges that the Children, Youth and Families Department has failed to recruit, license and train an adequate number of people needed to ensure safe, supportive homes for foster youth.

The departments, in a joint emailed statement Monday, say they have made "significant progress in improving the foster care system and are constantly working to improve services for the children and families of New Mexico."

The lawsuit says children are being repeatedly uprooted and cycled in and out of short-term emergency placements.

The departments say the lawsuit is "out of step with reality."

New Mexico City To Spend $11M On New Transit CenterAssociated Press

The city of Las Cruces will receive $11 million in federal funding to spend on public transportation needs.

The Federal Transit Administration announced the funding Tuesday. In all, more than $366 million in grants will go to dozens of projects to improve the safety and reliability of community bus systems across the United States.

Las Cruces will use its share to build a new transit maintenance and operations center. The center will fulfill current vehicle maintenance, upkeep needs, address travel time reliability and enhance passenger access.

Demand for the bus infrastructure grants far exceeds available funds. Federal officials say the transit administration received applications for 339 eligible projects totaling about $2 billion in funding requests.

New Mexico Gets Low Marks For From Debt Watchdog GroupAssociated Press

A group that emphasizes financial accountability in state government is giving New Mexico a poor grade based on the state's debt burden.

The group Truth in Accounting estimated Tuesday that New Mexico would need about $9,000 per taxpayer to pay off its bills — a debt load largely attributable to public pension and retiree health care liabilities.

Truth in Accounting CEO Sheila Weinberg says New Mexico ranks near the middle of the pack among states when outstanding bills are compared to assets that readily can used to pay off those obligations.

The group gave New Mexico a "D'' grade because obligations exceeded $5,000 per taxpayer as of in mid-2016. She says the state's audited financial reports include a rare disclaimer about reliability, and are consistently published later than most states.

New Mexico Sorority Facing Heat For Racial RemarksDaily Lobo, Associated Press

A University of New Mexico sorority is facing criticism after some students say members used racial remarks during a workshop.

The Daily Lobo reports the Black Student Alliance said members of the Kappa Kappa Gamma asked black students to get away and to "stop wearing grills."

The group says sorority members also mocked a black administrator as she spoke during a workshop for incoming Greek Life members.

Black Student Alliance member Nieajua Gonzalez says she confronted one of the Kappa Kappa Gamma members about her comments and the sorority member laughed.

The national chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma says it is reviewing the case and "will determine any appropriate next steps."

US Judge Orders Priest Held On Abuse ChargesAssociated Press

A federal judge has ordered a priest who fled the U.S. decades ago amid allegations of child sex abuse to be held pending trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Molzen ruled Tuesday that Arthur Perrault was a flight risk despite arguments from his defense attorney that he had no passport, no family and no means to leave the country.

Prosecutor Sean Sullivan argued that the 80-year-old priest was a danger to the community.

Some people who say they are victims of Perrault's attended the hearing, and applauded and exchanged hugs following the judge's ruling.

Prosecutors say Perrault had been a chaplain at a base in Albuquerque where he is accused of sexually abusing children.

Court documents say he vanished in 1992, just days before an attorney filed two lawsuits against the archdiocese alleging Perrault had sexually assaulted seven children at his parish. He was located last year in Morocco.

Feds: Priest Blamed Sex Abuse On Cancer He Didn't Have - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

Prosecutors say a former New Mexico priest who fled the U.S. decades ago amid allegations of child sex abuse enticed victims with gifts, and once blamed his behavior on a cancer diagnosis he didn't have.

Arthur Perrault is scheduled Tuesday to appear in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque for a detention hearing as prosecutors seek to hold the 80-year-old until his trial for aggravated sexual abuse.

Court documents filed in federal court say victims described Perrault showering them with gifts and meals before abusing them.

Documents also said the Connecticut-born Perrault wrote an apology letter to the parents of one victim in 1971 and blamed his actions on cancer, which prosecutors say he never had.

Perrault was extradited to New Mexico last week from Morocco.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Lawsuit: New Mexico apartments plagued by rats, bed bugs Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A southern New Mexico apartment complex has been hit with a class-action lawsuit by former tenants who say the place was plagued with bed bugs and rats.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports a lawsuit recently filed in state district court by three former tenants said Desert Palms Apartments in Las Cruces, New Mexico, did nothing to stem the tide of bed bugs, rodents and roaches.

Former tenant Erica Olivas says rats were living in her stove. Olivas says she and her 13-year-old son ingested rat feces from food cooked in the stove.

Jeff Curry, who manages the property with JL Gray Company, says he feels terrible for former tenants and the complex is working with tenants who are experiencing issues.

Records: Most Santa Fe DWI checkpoints staged in poor areas  Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Documents show most of the drunken driving checkpoints conducted by Santa Fe police since 2016 have been staged in the poorer parts of the city.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports documents obtained under a public records request found that 22 of the 27 DWI checkpoints conducted by the Santa Fe Police Department were dispatched in the south and southwest areas.

That's an area of the city where poorer residents and Mexican immigrants live as opposed to the more affluent areas of the city.

Documents show another eight checkpoints were planned in those poorer areas but canceled because the department didn't have enough officers to meet minimum staffing requirements.

Police Capt. Marvin Paulk says the department isn't discriminating but that the data tells police the poorer areas are where the checkpoints should be staged.

Trial for man accused of shooting Albuquerque vet to begin KOB-TV, Associated Press

The trial for a man accused of killing a decorated Army veteran at an Albuquerque ATM is set to begin this week.

KOB-TV reports court proceedings will start Monday against Matthew Chavez, who is charged with first-degree murder in the 2016 death of 24-year-old Tyler Lackey.

Chavez is currently in prison for a robbery in Oklahoma.

Authorities say Lackey and a friend stopped by the ATM and Chavez tried to rob Lackey. They say Chavez shot at the veteran while driving away.

A woman who was with Chavez at the time was originally charged with robbery and tampering. The charges were dismissed due to lack of evidence.

Prosecutors say Chavez robbed an Albuquerque cellphone store just days before the shooting. He was sentenced to three years for that crime.