Smith fails to appear

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Court > Warrant issued for his arrest

By John Severance

An arrest warrant has been issued for Jake Smith, a former Los Alamos restaurateur and Santa Fe Realtor, after he failed to appear for arraignment on two misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty Monday in the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe.

The grand jury indictment, which was handed down March 13, charges that Smith “negligently mistreated, injured, killed without lawful justification or tormented an animal or abandoned or failed to provide necessary sustenance to an animal under his custody or control, contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 30-18-1.”

Juan Valencia from the Santa Fe County District Attorney’s office said, “I can confirm that Mr. Smith did not appear for his arraignment. I understand that the Judge issued a warrant for his failure to appear. Once arrested, he will be brought before the Court and arraigned and the matter of bond will be argued.”

Santa Fe police spokesperson Celina Westervelt said, “We have not been able to track him down. We hear he may be in California. This is a case we are eager to prosecute.”

Judge Stephen Pfeiffer of the First Judicial District Court for the County of Santa Fe also issued a warrant for his arrest on March 13. A cash bond of $5,000 was set. The warrant stated that Smith had to appear at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

But Smith was a no-show.

The warrant, meanwhile, said that the State of New Mexico will extradite Smith from anywhere in the United States if he is found.

The City of Santa Fe Police Department issued this release last Nov. 13.

“City of Santa Fe Animal Control Officers were dispatched to 335 B. Pino Road in reference to animal cruelty. Two extremely emaciated dogs were found dead in the living room. Neighbors had not seen the male tenant in months. The tenant in unit B has been identified.”

Smith had worked as an agent for Barker Realty in Santa Fe and also worked as a manager at the Hill Diner and the Dixie Girl restaurants in Los Alamos.

Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy said his office has not been contacted by Santa Fe Police.

“As far as I have heard, he is not living in Los Alamos and I have not seen him since all of this happened back in November,” Torpy said. “It’s Santa Fe’s case. If they need help, they will let us know.”

There was some ambiguity as to whether prosecutors would seek to have Smith charged with misdemeanor or felony animal cruelty.

The New Mexico statute says that whoever commits cruelty to animals is guilty of a misdemeanor and if the defendant is convicted of an animal cruelty charge four times, it is considered a fourth-degree felony.

The statute also states that if a person is convicted of extreme cruelty to animals, they can face fourth degree felony sentencing, which is 18 months in prison and up to a $5,000 fine per count.

Extreme cruelty to animals consists of a person intentionally or maliciously torturing, mutilating, injuring or poisoning an animal or maliciously killing an animal.

Sentencing on the misdemeanor convictions includes up to one year in county jail and up to a $1,000 fine or both per charge.