Police department year in review

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By Carol A. Clark

A murdered woman, a commercial building drenched by vandals and an armed robbery inside a dry cleaners top the Los Alamos Police Department’s list of crimes in 2008.


Jack Markham, 55, remains in jail charged with the Aug. 4 murder of his wife, Robin Markham. Markham allegedly shot her at least twice in the chest inside their Denver Steel home at 3459 Pueblo Drive.


In the case of Mountainair Cleaners, detectives continue to search for a man who entered the establishment on a November Saturday afternoon and robbed the clerk at knife point.


“In my opinion, he had a plan and he was able to penetrate protective measures that had already been in place,” co-owner Dina Quintana said at the time.


The clerk was not injured and was able to report the robbery.


“He got away with approximately $600 in cash,” Det. DeWayne Williams said.


Police wrapped up several burglary cases in 2008 including that of Eugene Martinez, 23, of Alcalde who was arrested at 1137 San Ildefonso Road. Martinez was charged with burglary of an estimated $544 taken from the bedroom dresser of the homeowner who had employed Martinez' uncle for some five years.


In late July, police utilized hi-tech tracking software installed on electronic equipment at UNM-Los Alamos to crack a computer theft case.


They arrested  UNM-LA janitor David Suazo, 51, at his trailer and charged him with theft of the equipment.


Registered sex offender Victor William Loretto, 35, of Jemez Pueblo was arrested at Ashley Pond in June and charged with lewd behavior, two counts of assault on a peace officer and public intoxication.


Police located Loretto under the gazebo and said he appeared severely intoxicated by his behavior and exuded a strong odor of alcohol and had been making sexual advances to some boys and girls at the pond.


In another case, Lemongrass Restaurant manager Joongdae Cha was arrested Aug. 22 and charged with eight felony sex crimes involving a female child under 13. The district attorney’s office failed to move forward with the case in the required 10 day period so the illegal alien was transferred to immigration officials in El Paso for exportation back to Korea.


Jeremy W. Johnson, 24, 1602 37th Street, was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors and six felonies in connection with a teen drinking party that occurred shortly before 1 a.m. on June 7. A fight broke out and some of the  party goers left, returning later carrying two AK-47 Semi-Automatic rifles.


Shots were fired into the air and at vehicles parked near Forest Road 280 in the Jemez, according to the police report, and two of the teens were hit with rifle butts.


A plea agreement was reached in October in an embezzlement and theft case involving an employee at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Hallie Deaguero plead guilty to embezzlement and theft following a collaborative investigation by several law enforcement agencies.


The United States Attorney’s Office charged Deaguero, 47, saying she, “willfully and knowingly did conceal and retain property and things of value of the United States, valued at approximately $14,910.97.”


The crimes occurred from approximately September 2004 through February 2008 while Deaguero was working in the Environmental Earth Sciences Division at LANL, according to court documents.


In April, police detectives located a 77-year-old woman with Alzheimer's who wandered away from her husband in the downtown area. They found the woman unharmed within five minutes using the Project Lifesaver training they received earlier in the year to track the woman who was equipped with a monitoring device.


Ground was broken this year on a Judicial/Police/Jail Complex. County council denied two petitions presented by some citizens who say the project is too big and too expensive and want it stopped. By May 2010, residents of Los Alamos county will be the first in New Mexico to utilize the unique judicial facility in which their District, Municipal and Magistrate courts will share the same space.


The LAPD began working in July toward becoming an accredited law enforcement agency. Chief Wayne Torpy explained that besides the special recognition, accreditation provides benefits such as an improved, more  effective administrative system, reduced liability potential, enhanced supervisory accountability and greater governmental and community support.


“Through this accreditation process, our intention is to further improve our crime prevention and control capabilities, enhance our management procedures and personnel practices, improve service delivery to our citizens and increase professional confidence in our department,” he said at the time.


This wraps up another successful year for local police officers who scored well in the county’s public opinion survey. Of residents surveyed, 56 percent said they feel always safe and 43 percent feel usually safe from crime in Los Alamos. Less than one percent said they feel usually unsafe and none claimed to feel always unsafe.