Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Public Safety

Hosted barbecue for police and fire personnel at Bernalillo High School

BPA and FFA show appreciation

—Bernalillo Public Schools

When things go seriously wrong in our communities, one of the first places we seek help is our local police and fire departments. At our local schools, the first place we turn to is our security team and school resource officer. These are difficult jobs and the people who do them have to take on a lot of responsibility. This year as Business Professionals of America (BPA) students were selecting a service-learning project, these invaluable public service representatives came to mind because of all they give to support Bernalillo High School (BHS). As the project developed, students also decided to include BHS custodians, because of all the work they do to keep to school clean and safe.

BPA students teamed up with Future Farmers of America (FFA) students to raise funds to provide a barbecue for our local police and fire departments. Students worked to raise approximately $250 to host this event. The endeavor was supported by students and BHS staff. There were also donations made by Superintendent Allan Tapia, and Dean Gallegos, head of the food services department. Annelle Brown was also instrumental in helping this event be a success.

At the barbecue, guests were treated to hamburgers and hot dogs, side dishes, and a dessert. Each guest was also given a giveaway that included a Spartan bag with candy and other items. The barbecue was a huge success for both public servants and BPA and FFA students. Lexi Baca, FFA member, said “It was really neat to see all of our members interacting with our local fire and police department.”

Principals in criminal, corruption probes have local ties

—Bill Diven

Two high-profile but unrelated investigations—one alleging a fifty million dollar international swindle and the other prompting the resignation of a cabinet secretary—have connections in Sandoval County.

In the fraud case, Michael Jacobs and his wife Ruby Handler-Jacobs of Albuquerque are among six defendants charged in an indictment unsealed in New York in mid-December. They face multiple felony counts including wire fraud, identity theft, money laundering, and impersonating a federal employee or officer.

By Signpost deadline none of the six had appeared in court or entered a plea.

The indictment alleges the group created a bogus high-yield, risk-free investment program purportedly backed by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to American cities after the 2008 financial crisis. The fifty million dollars from U.S. and foreign investors was simply stolen and laundered through various international banks and shell companies, according to investigators.

Jacobs and Handler-Jacobs formerly owned Rio Grande Studios, which in early 2005 announced grandiose plans for a motion-picture studio, a Hollywood back lot, a movie-car museum, and other facilities to be built in Rio Rancho's new town center. At the time, the Signpost reported that the couple—he a Hollywood production-set photographer, she an actress, former model and bounty hunter—had produced one low-budget movie.

The studio never materialized, and a criminal case, later dismissed, alleged the pair defrauded investors of more than five hundred thousand dollars.

In the second investigation, Demesia Padilla, Gov. Susana Martinez's cabinet secretary for taxation and revenue, resigned abruptly on December 15 after the state attorney general served search warrants on her office and other locations. No charges have been filed, but the investigator's affidavit supporting the search warrant alleges Padilla mingled her past private accounting practice with official acts in office.

Before joining the cabinet and possibly after, Padilla handled the books for Harold's Grading and Trucking of Bernalillo. Padilla told the investigator that $25,000 she received after taking office was owed her by HGT.

Members of the family company, however, said the automatic payments were not authorized and that when they took over the books found they owed the state eighty thousand dollars in unpaid gross receipts taxes, according to the affidavit.

The investigation began when a whistleblower in Padilla's government office alleged Padilla was interfering with a tax audit, triggered when HGT paid the back taxes. The affidavit also indicates the investigation is looking whether the payments from HGT and another $129,000 in income outside her state salary were properly reported and taxed.

The HGT payments do not appear on the official disclosure forms Padilla was required to file for her cabinet position, according to the affidavit.

Sandoval County Sheriff’s deputy busts two mailbox burglars in Placitas

—Keith Elder, Lieutenant, Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department

Sandoval County—At about 2:20 a.m. Tuesday, December 27, 2016, Deputy Robert Torres was conducting neighborhood checks in the Placitas area. Deputy Torres saw a black Chevrolet Malibu with Washington license plates near the mailboxes located on Vista Montana Loop and State Road 165. Due to the recent mailbox thefts, Deputy Torres stopped his patrol vehicle and walked to the mailboxes to check on the activity.   

As Deputy Torres walked to the vehicle he noticed a man facing the mailboxes trying to open them with a screwdriver and wrench. He also saw a female driver inside the Malibu. Deputy Torres told the female to take the keys out of the ignition and get out of the car. The female started the vehicle and quickly accelerated the vehicle almost running over Deputy Torres. Deputy Torres not only had to jump out of the path of the car, but also pulled the man out of the way as well. After the car left, Deputy Torres took the man identified as Paul A. Garcia, 24, of Albuquerque into custody on a number of charges including a misdemeanor arrest warrant.

After Deputy Torres provided information on the car that narrowly missed running him over, Bernalillo Police officers located the car on US 550 and pursued it until it crashed at the intersection of Camino Don Tomas and Calle Don Francisco in Bernalillo. The car was being driven by the same woman later identified as 21-year-old Elexus Jolaine Groves of Albuquerque.

As a result of the crash, the woman received minor injuries and was transported to Sandoval Regional Hospital where she remained for observation on non-life threatening injuries and was later released. She has been arrested on Assault on a Peace Officer. There are numerous other narcotic and property crime charges pending in this case

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