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Today's News

  • San Miguel County pays out $38,000 to email scam

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — San Miguel County is out $38,000 after a sophisticated email scam persuaded the county finance supervisor to transfer the funds to an outside account.

    The Las Vegas Optic reports that New Mexico State Police is working to figure out who is behind the email, which made it appear that Les Montoya instructed finance supervisor Melinda Gonzales to transfer the money to pay a consultant.

    The false email appeared to have been sent from Montoya's iPhone.

    Montoya says that if policies and procedures had been followed, the money would not have been transferred.

    Similar scams were sent to multiple counties and school districts in the state. Employees from San Miguel County, Zuni Public Schools and Deming Public Schools initiated transfers to the scammers totaling over $100,000, though the schools were able to stop the process.

  • Robot Rodeo brings in bomb squads from all over U.S.

    Emergency bomb squads from all over the U.S. are teamed up at Los Alamos National Laboratory this week to compete and show off their skills.   
    Called the Robot Rodeo, it’s one of the few events where these teams can show off their skills taking their unit’s bomb handling robots through many types of real life scenarios.
    Opening suspicious packages, taking bombs off trains, and delivering packages are just some of the scenarios the teams in the competition practice.
    The Robot Rodeo takes place at Sandia National Laboratory or Los Alamos National Laboratory. This year it was at LANL’s Tech Area 49, where teams from the Los Alamos Police Department, Colorado, California and elsewhere put their robots through their paces.
    In Los Alamos at Tech Area 49, event coordinator and LANL bomb technician Christopher Ory was in charge of the event, making sure each of the teams had what they needed to successfully complete their missions.
    Though there’s some fun and competition involved, the lab tries to make each scenario as realistic as possible.

  • Today in history June 17
  • Girlfriend charged after fight

    The ex-girlfriend of Los Alamos resident Zachary Keller was arrested after an altercation at her apartment.
    The ex-girlfriend called police shortly after the alleged incident took place June 7 and filed a complaint against him.
    Ashley Fragua, 23, was charged with false imprisonment and battery against a household member. The arresting officer reported that he based the arrest on a witness at the scene and Keller’s mother.
    Keller was also arrested following the incident. Keller pled not guilty June 8 in magistrate court.
    “After leaving Fragua’s apartment, I was approached by a man who stated that he had seen some of the altercation between Fragua and Keller,” LAPD Cpl. James Keane wrote in the police report. “The man stated that he witnessed Keller making several trips to and from the apartment to remove items, and while Keller was doing so, Fragua was following and yelling at him in an angry manner.”
    The witness then told Keane that Fragua allegedly grabbed Keller while he was on his bicycle attempting to leave.
    That was when Keller’s mother, who was also at the scene, stepped in and prevented Fragua from trying to stop her son from leaving.

  • Citizens speak for, against eliminating sheriff’s office

    Although Tuesday night’s Los Alamos County Council meeting was packed with people following the debate about whether voters should decide if the sheriff’s office should be abolished, only a dozen or so people offered public comment.
    Several of those opposed to abolishing the office argued that an elected sheriff provides a check and balance to other elected officials and county management.
    Matt Wolk claimed council did not have the authority to pass this ordinance.
    “He is an elected official that answers to the people, and he has a right to investigate, to find the truth. He or she, as sheriff in any county in this country, is the last separation of power that us, the people, have to make sure there is checks and balances, proper investigations,” Wolk said. “You guys can shut down the police. They may not like it, but the chief has to answer to you.”
    Deputy Sheriff John N. Horne, speaking as a private citizen, argued that, “As far as our federal Constitution goes, I do believe that there are some implications here, because all the citizens of Los Alamos County are entitled to equal protection under the law. Everyone in this state, in every other county, has a sheriff that works directly for them.

  • Citizens to vote on keeping sheriff’s office

    Voters will decide in November whether Los Alamos will abolish its sheriff’s office.
    After a heated round of public debate Tuesday, the Los Alamos County Council decided to place the ballot item before voters in November. Councilors voted 4−3, with James Chrobocinski, Steve Girrens and Pete Sheehey deciding against the ordinance.
    If the citizens pass the proposed County Charter amendment, the change would go into effect after Sheriff Marco Lucero’s term ends in 2018.
    Chair Rick Reiss stressed that the ordinance council passed Tuesday does not abolish the office of sheriff but puts the issue before the voters.
    “Between tonight and November – assuming that this ordinance is approved – there will be a significant amount of time and numerous forms to debate the issue,” Reiss said. “This time will provide the public with information so they can determine how they should vote.”
    On May 24, council moved all process-serving responsibilities from the sheriff’s office to the Los Alamos Police Department, after Lucero expressed concerns for his deputies’ safety. The question of whether to retain a sheriff also stems from that issue. The staff report reads,

  • New Mexico wildfire destroys 24 homes, pushes east

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Hundreds of firefighters battling a fast-moving blaze that has destroyed two dozen homes and numerous other structures in central New Mexico are bracing for hot, dry and windy weather as they look for any chance Friday to slow the flames.

    Fire managers released the damage assessment overnight after saying previously that the blaze destroyed some structures near the small community of Chilili as it made a big push Wednesday night.

    Authorities also expanded the mandatory evacuation zone to include a few more subdivisions to the north and east, but they could not immediately say how many homes were affected or how many were directly threatened by the fire.

    Dozens of residents left their homes in the Chilili area Wednesday after the fire made a big push. Residents packed their vehicles with clothes, photo albums and other belongings, and some loaded animals into livestock trailers as a wall of smoke loomed between them and the border of the Cibola National Forest.

    Gov. Susana Martinez declared an emergency, clearing the way for state resources to help with the fire. She surveyed the blaze via air Thursday evening and received a briefing from state and federal officials.

  • Hot temps, wind hamper firefighter efforts in New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A blaze burning in central New Mexico outpaced firefighters Thursday as it marched across miles of tinder dry forest, forcing evacuations and destroying structures near the small community of Chilili.

    The blaze made a big push overnight, but fire information officers could not immediately say how many structures were lost or whether any were homes since crews have not been able to access and survey the area.

    The community was among those in Bernalillo and Torrance counties that were placed under a mandatory evacuation Wednesday night as the flames raced to the northeast.

    It wasn't immediately clear how many homes and other structures were threatened by the flames, fire information officer Denise Ottaviano said.

    "We have ground crews throughout the perimeter of the fire and out ahead of it," she said. "They're trying to provide some structure protection in certain points that could be threatened."

    Close to 700 personnel were assigned to the fire, along with a fleet of air tankers and helicopters.

    Despite all the work, there was no containment Thursday afternoon.

    Roads remained closed as authorities prepared for the blaze to shift course and possibly head east into previously evacuated areas that are dotted with ranches.

  • New Mexico fire prompts emergency decree, evacuations

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A wildfire burning in central New Mexico grew to more than 3-square miles and forced evacuations, after sending up a towering plume of smoke that blanketed the state's largest city in a thick haze.

    The blaze burning in the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque prompted Gov. Susana Martinez to declare an emergency, clearing the way for state funds to be used.

    Evacuations continued overnight in Bernalillo and Torrance counties, Bernalillo County officials said. At least 50 residences had been evacuated by Thursday morning, they said, and several people had taken shelter at a community center in Tijeras, which also took in dozens of pets.

    The New Mexico Environment Department and state Health Department of Health issued an advisory, warning that smoke from the fire would affect Albuquerque and the surrounding areas as well as other parts of New Mexico, including Santa Fe, as it drifted north.

    The forecast called for more hot, dry and stagnant weather, and officials said that's expected to contribute to increased smoke concentrations throughout this weekend.

    The governor issued the emergency declaration Wednesday and directed state agencies to offer all available resources to assist local authorities. Martinez said the first priority is the health and safety of New Mexicans.

  • Today in history June 16