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Courts

  • Former pet store worker accused of embezzlement

    A Los Alamos resident accused of committing two fourth-degree felonies had the charges read against her in court Monday.
    According to court records, the defendant, HollyMichelle Bates, 44, is being accused of embezzlement and forgery, crimes she allegedly committed when she was an employee at the Pet Pangaea pet supply store, located in Central Park Square. Police were contacted by the store’s owner Dec. 12 in regards to a possible embezzlement scheme uncovered by the Los Alamos National Bank.
    Bates’ next appearance will be a status hearing before Los Alamos Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados Jan. 23, where Bates will have to answer questions about the charges against her.
    Specifically, Bates is being charged with embezzling more than $500 and less than $2,500, and simple forgery.
    If convicted, Bates could face a maximum of 18 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 for the embezzlement charge and the same amount of prison time and fine for the forgery charges, as well.
    According to the storeowner, the bank recently contacted over a check that was written on behalf of Pat Pangaea to Bates for $1,348.62.

  • Cases will be heard in LA

    For a few years, Los Alamos residents headed for district court found it relatively convenient, as the New Mexico’s First Judicial District provided a judge every Wednesday to hear cases at the Los Alamos Justice Center.
    Now, with departure of First Judicial District Judge Sheri Raphaelson, after voters in her district failed to give her the 57 percent majority needed to stay on the bench, it may be awhile before district court in Los Alamos will get back to that same schedule.
    First, a judicial nominating commission has to settle on a candidate, a process that isn’t likely to be completed until March or April of this year.
    However, Los Alamos Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados has been making sure the First Judicial District of New Mexico continues its practice of having a judge hear cases from Los Alamos in the county, a practice that saves residents who have cases with the court from sacrificing entire day in Santa Fe just to attend a hearing.
    “I will continue to strive to make sure that the district court has a presence here at the Los Alamos Justice Center, either with a new judge or a judge that’s appointed to serve Los Alamos,” Casados said.

  • On The Docket 12-26-14

    Michael Krone was found guilty by the Los Alamos Magistrate Court of driving while under the influence of liquor and/or drugs (.08 or above, first offense). The original charge was aggravated driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor/any drugs (refusal of testing, first offense)
    Defendant was ordered to pay $241 in court costs. Defendant was also ordered to serve three months in the Los Alamos County Detention Center with three months suspended, with a total of no jail time. Defendant must also perform community service and undergo 364 days of supervised probation.
    Probation conditions are: obeying all laws and not be arrested or convicted of any other offense while on probation. Defendant will comply with all conditions of probation. Defendant will also enter and participate in all alcohol and drug screening programs. Defendant shall also participate and complete DWI school within 90 days. The defendant shall also enter and successfully complete the Victim Impact program within 90 days.
    The defendant shall also obtain an ignition interlock license and have ignition interlock devices installed on all cars defendant will be driving for one year.

  • On The Docket 12-17-14

    Dec. 11

    Natalia Friedland was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of improper stopping, starting or turning of a vehicle. Defendant was fined $50 and ordered to pay $65 in court costs.

    Delbert P. Martinez pled no contest in Los Alamos Municipal Court to failing to appear in court and for not properly displaying a current, valid registration plate. He was fined $50 and ordered to pay $130 in court costs.

    Raquel M. Am pled no contest in the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding 11 to 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. Sentencing deferred until Feb. 8. Defendant was also sentenced to defensive driving school. Defendant was also ordered to pay $65 in court costs.

    Zachary Sanchez was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and was ordered to pay $65 in court costs.

    Dec. 12

    Carl E. Johnson was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and was ordered to pay $65 in court costs.

    Dec. 15

    Nicolle L. Gonzales was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding in a school zone one to five miles an hour over the limit.

  • Charges could be dropped in fraud case

    A $50,000 computer fraud case may end up being dismissed, due to “right to a speedy trial” issues and a judge’s political future.
    Fernando Rodriguez, 32, is suspected of trying to steal $50,000 by computer from a bank account managed by the Los Alamos National Bank.
    At a recent status hearing, Rodriguez’s defense attorney, Mike Jones, pointed out to the court that while Ryan Roller, Rodriguez’s alleged partner in crime, has been out on bail since November of last year, Rodriguez has been locked up in jail, with no indication of when he will be tried.
    Complicating matters is that the district court judge presiding over the case, Sheri Raphaelson, may have to step down in January since voters voted not to retain her. She is appealing the decision, and oral arguments are due to be heard in the Supreme Court of New Mexico Monday at 9 a.m.
    At this week’s status hearing, Jones used these arguments to successfully argue his client’s bail down from $30,000 cash-only to a $1,000 signature bond, even though the state considered Rodriguez a flight risk and a danger to the community.

  • Drug dealer's driver earns probation

    Daniel Hoth, 29, a Los Alamos resident, who was driving a drug dealer around White Rock last year to do drug deals, was sentenced recently in Rio Arriba County District Court.
    Even though the events, which according to court documents happened between Oct. 1 and Nov. 6 of last year, happened in Los Alamos, Hoth was sentenced in Rio Arriba County because of another case occurring in Los Alamos County District Court that day.
    Hoth who was sentenced in mid-November, received three years of supervised probation with drug court.
    He, along with Albuquerque resident David Simmons, were arrested by police on Nov. 6 of last year. They were picked up at the corner of Rover Boulevard and N.M. 4 after police observed them acting suspiciously.
    A search of Hoth’s car turned up methamphetamine and assorted drug paraphernalia. The two were arrested, and Hoth was charged with trafficking controlled substances (distribution, narcotic or meth, first offense), conspiracy to commit trafficking (by distribution, narcotic or meth), possession of a controlled substance (felony, narcotic drug) and use or possession of drug paraphernalia.
    As part of his plea agreement, Hoth agreed to waive his right to a trial. If he violates his probation, the original penalties will be reinstated. If happens, Hoth could face a maximum nine years in prison.

  • On The Docket 12-10-14

    Dec. 3
    John Quintana was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to pay court fines/costs. Defendant was fined $50 and ordered to pay $65 in court costs.

    Manuel A. Garcia was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of making an improper lane change. Defendant was fined $50 and ordered to pay $65 in court costs.

    Jennie R. Keller was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding 11 to 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $75 and ordered to pay $65 in court costs.

    Dec. 4
    William Angel pled no contest in Los Alamos Municipal Court to two counts of failing to appear in court. Defendant received a deferred sentence. Defendant was ordered to pay $92 in court costs.

    Priscilla Clark pled no contest in Los Alamos Municipal Court to failing to regulate weeds, brush piles, refuse and rubbish and outdoor storage of materials. Defendant received a deferred sentence. Defendant was ordered to pay $120 in court costs. Sentencing deferred until March 3.

    Lee Keunrang was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to obey a traffic sign. He was fined $50 and ordered to pay $65 in court costs.

  • Court to determine defendant's competency

    A 22-year-old Los Alamos resident, who stands accused of having criminal sexual contact with two girls at least four times last spring, appeared in district court Wednesday for a status hearing.
    The defendant, Christopher Davis, was arrested in May of this year after an extensive investigation by New Mexico Attorney General Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Los Alamos Police Department.
    The investigation was triggered by an out-of-state summons for Davis from Minnesota. According to the Anoka County Minnesota Sheriff’s Office, Davis was wanted for sending lewd photos to a 14-year-old girl that lives in that county.
    The local investigation also revealed similar, alleged, charges in Los Alamos County, including: 12 counts of sexual penetration of a minor, fourth degree, three counts of criminal solicitation by electronic communication device/meets with child and four counts of criminal sexual communication with a child and one count of sexual exploitation of children under 18 years of age/manufacturing visual media.

  • Porter sentenced to probation

    Steven Porter, a White Rock resident who was looking at a hefty jail sentence back in August, was given conditional discharge and probation Wednesday by Judge Sheri Raphaelson in Los Alamos District Court.
    In August, Porter was facing a slew of drug possession charges and one charge of attempt to escape from a GPS monitoring program he was placed on shortly after he posted bail for the drug possession charges.
    There was also hearsay that Porter was behind acts of vandalism to his neighbor’s houses. However, a month later, when Porter appeared in district court, his defense attorney, Elden Pennington, made most of those charges go away, as well as dispel the vandalism rumors police were investigating.
    “There’s been no threats, acts of violence or anything like that whatsoever to his community,” Pennington said during his September hearing, adding that though there was a “belief and an assumption” that Porter was behind the acts of vandalism, “the ongoing investigation has failed to link Mr. Porter to the alleged charges.”
    Pennington also cited Porter’s ties to the community, his service in the first Gulf War and his family life.

  • Judge questions vote

    Shortly after the 2014 elections this past November, District Court Judge Sheri Raphaelson learned that the constituents in her districts, which consist of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties, no longer wanted to retain her as judge.
    Here’s how each county voted according to the unofficial results:
    • Los Alamos: 2,727 voters voted to retain her.
    • 3,070 voters voted to recall her.
    • Rio Arriba: 3,385 voters voted to retain her.
    • 3,344 voters voted to recall her.
    • Santa Fe: 19,629 voters voted to retain her.
    • 13,546 voters voted to recall her.
    Raphaelson needed at least 57 percent of the overall vote to keep her job, she fell short of that by about one percent point, with 55.98 percent of the voters voting to keep her and 44.02 percent of the voters voting to let her go, according to the unofficial figures on the website of the New Mexico Secretary of State.
    Two days after the election, Raphaelson sent off a letter to Chief Judge of the First Judicial District Raymond Ortiz contesting the election.