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Sheriff’s candidate sues LA county claiming records act violations

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By Tris DeRoma

Los Alamos County Sheriff candidate James Whitehead is suing Los Alamos County, the police department, the parks, recreation and open spaces, and Records Custodian Barb Ricci for not fully honoring the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act.

Whitehead claims in his lawsuit that the county’s records division did not give him all the records he requested in June 2016.

The Republican candidate is being represented by Attorney Blair Dunn of Albuquerque.

Whitehead claims in his lawsuit that an investigator for the Municipal League, Leroy Lucero, received the same records Whitehead requested. Leroy received some dispatch recordings that Whitehead did not receive as part of his June 2016 request, according to the lawsuit.

“Later, as plaintiff was going over the records provided, he noticed that in April of 2016, dispatch recording had been provided to Leroy Lucero by Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone,” a statement in the lawsuit said. “These dispatch recordings had not been provided in the original IPRA response by Los Alamos County.”

Whitehead later made a request for the dispatch records, and they were honored. However, when Whitehead asked the county for emails involving Lucero in an Oct. 8, 2017 request, Ricci informed him that “Leroy Lucero was the investigator for the Municipal League, making them the holder of the Mr. Lucero’s work product.”  

Whitehead also claims the county did not give him all the records he requested in a Jan. 10, 2017 request about the Friends of the Shelter, a volunteer group that once worked with the Los Alamos County Animal Shelter.

Whitehead also said he was denied all the information he requested on alleged land modifications done to a stable at the North Mesa Stables. Whitehead is president of the North Mesa Stables Association.

Whitehead is asking for an injunction to enforce the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, an award for damages, legal costs and attorney’s fees in relation to the lawsuit.