Courts, Cops, Prosecutors, Coop

By: Bill Whaley
29 January, 2016

“In his affidavit in support of his search warrant application, Defendant Wentz [a town cop] falsely swore to a judge of the Eighth Judicial District Court that the data he received from the cellular telephone providers were “lawfully obtained” (See Lawsuit below.)

Naturally, you dear readers, are getting sick of stories about unethical conduct in our bucolic community, which sounds more like a corrupt burg out of a Raymond Chandler novel than the pastoral Chamisaville (Mayberry?) mentioned by John Nichols in his Milagro Trilogy. Here in real live Taos this post includes more about incompetence at the Coop, cops who take shortcuts at the Town of Taos, and the 8th Judicial District Court and DA’s office, where violating the rights of “victims” and “suspects” is historically routine.

To be fair, the Administrative Officer of the Courts, apparently says that former DDA Emilio Chavez and DA Donald Gallegos will get their day in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 2, at 9 am in Santa Fe to discuss their use of “illegal subpoenas” (see below). The dreaded D-Board of the Judicial Standards wing of the NM Bar will argue the case against Gallegos and Chavez, now a sitting judge out of Raton, NM in the 8th Judicial District. The Supremes can ignore, censure, fine, suspend, disbar Tweedleedee and Tweeedledum.

Attorney Todd Coberly, who represents plaintiffs Ike Martinez and Carla Casias, in this lawsuit accuses Wentz and Chavez of conspiring to issue “100 fraudulent  subpoenas” under DA Donald’s watch in the KCEC robbery case. According to the lawsuit below, Martinez and Casias allege that the defendants, “(Judge) Chavez,” (today) and Officer Wentz issued 100 illegal subpoenas in an attempt to capitalize on the DDA’s powerful signature—no court, no grand jury— so that Wentz, as it turns out, according to the documents below, could work out his “theory of the case.” The two defendants apparently and allegedly “conspired” against and accused the alleged bandidos, Martinez and Casias, of robbing the KCEC of some “$200 Gs.”

Here one might step back and recognize a “cash management” problem like so many of KCEC’s “management” problems including the failing Broadband project. USDA’s Terry Brunner, asked about the Broadband problems of KCEC said the Coop received a federal grant and loan under the auspices of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act for $65 million. But he also said the biggest grantee in the nation then is now the worst performing. According to Brunner KCEC’s lack of progress can be excused due to the difficult “terrain.” (Blaming inanimate objects for human failings is only the newest excuse in the annals of KCEC.)

Anyway, to resume the story above, the two investigators, Chavez and Wentz, allegedly intimidated phone companies with their “illegal” subpoenas and collected metadata from the alleged robber’s records in an effort confirm the “theory” of conspiracy.

Kit Carson jumped in to help the duo find the robbers. On May 8, 2013, Kit Carson polygraphed Crystal Martinez, the alleged victim of the alleged robbery. The polygrapher asked Crystal Martinez three relevant questions: (1) Did you participate in stealing any money from the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative on April 10, 2013?; (2) Regarding the robbery at the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative on April 10th, were you involved in the theft?; and (3) Do you know for sure who did steal the money from the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative deposit on April 10, 2013? Crystal Martinez answered “No” to all three relevant questions posed by the polygrapher.”

But the polygrapher scored Crystal Martinez’s polygraph as a “[minus]-9” and “stated in a written report: “[I]t is the opinion of the examiner that Crystal Martinez was being deceptive when she answered the above listed relevant questions as noted.”

On May 9, 2013 “Kit Carson polygraphed Plaintiff Casias. The polygrapher asked Plaintiff Casias the same relevant questions as he did Crystal Martinez, and Plaintiff Casias likewise answered “No” to all three relevant questions. The polygrapher scored Plaintiff Casias’s polygraph as a “[plus]+12” and “stated in a written report: “[I]t is the opinion of the examiner that Carla Casias was being truthful when she answered the above relevant questions as noted.”

“Kit Carson shared the results of Crystal Martinez and Carla Casias’s polygraphs with Defendant Chavez and/or Defendant Wentz. By May 22, 2013, Defendant Wentz had received the contents of Plaintiff Casias’s text messages pursuant to the May 6, 2013 search warrant. One of the text messages recovered was a text message that Plaintiff Martinez had sent to Plaintiff Casias around the time of the alleged robbery. The text message stated: “Going to Santa Fe.” [Oh, oh.]

“On May 22, 2013, Defendant Wentz applied for a search warrant to obtain detailed location data of Plaintiff Martinez’s cellular telephone on the date of the alleged robbery. Upon information and belief, Defendant Chavez reviewed and authorized the application prior to Defendant Wentz submitting it to a judge.”

“In his affidavit in support of the search warrant, Defendant Wentz falsely swore to a judge of the Eighth Judicial District Court that he had “lawfully obtained” phone records pertaining to Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias, and that he had obtained a search warrant for the actual contents of the text messages.

Well, the story of “mishmash,” “false testimony,” etc. allegedly goes on from there. (Read below.) The dough, except for checks, was not recovered, resulting in a loss to KCEC members, estimated at $100,000. Chavez, in several court hearings, bad-mouthed the alleged robbers, particularly Ike “Smiley” Martinez and Carla (Ma Barker) Casias, referring to them as members of a local gang. But if they were gangbangers, why did KCEC hire them since, in Taos, everybody knows everybody?(Smiley was not an employee of KCEC.)

 

The KCEC Human Resources and Billing/Collections Departments seem unfamiliar and untrained in the standard practices of cash businesses: make daily deposits and don’t leave tempting amounts of cash on the premises.

The lawsuit, posted below that summarizes the character and actions of cops and attorneys, has much in common with what we’ve been hearing about procurement code violators at the Town’s Public Works Department. The Town, the mayor, manager and councilors who aid and abet wrong-doing by covering-up for the alleged guilty parties are as guilty as the KCEC Trustees in terms of  ignoring their fiduciary responsibilities to taxpayers and members respectively. A lack of supervision has cost toth the Town and Coop millions in the last few years due to cost over-runs, underperformance, and ignoring the due diligence associated with best practices when bidding out public works  projects, whether roads or laying cable.

During the past decade and a half, the 8th Judicial District DA has ignored the rights of multiple victims who have survived homicide due to the practice of “selectiv prosecutions.” Let the perps who are friends of family or part of large voting constituencies walk. Whose watching?

 

8TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT
TAOS COUNTY NM FILED IN MY OFFICE 1/25/2016 1:40:46 PM BERNABE P. STRUCK DISTRICT COURT CLERK

STATE OF NEW MEXICO COUNTY OF TAOS
EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT

ISAAC MARTINEZ and CARLA D. CASIAS,

Plaintiffs,

vs. No. D_-_8_2_0_-C_V-2016-00025

BLK

EMILIO J. CHAVEZ, Deputy District Attorney, Eighth Judicial District, and JOHN R. WENTZ, Detective, Town of Taos Police Department,

Defendants.

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES
UNDER THE NEW MEXICO TORT CLAIMS ACT

Plaintiffs Isaac Martinez and Carla Casias, by and through their attorneys, Coberly

& Martinez, LLLP, hereby bring this Complaint for Damages resulting from Defendants Emilio

J. Chavez and John R. Wentz’s acts and omissions resulting in Plaintiffs being wrongfully charged with felony crimes.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE

1. Jurisdiction and venue are proper pursuant to NMSA 1978, § 41-4-18.

PARTIES

2. Plaintiff Isaac Martinez is an individual who resides in Taos County, New Mexico.
3. Plaintiff Carla D. Casias is an individual who resides in Taos County, New Mexico. Plaintiff Casias is the grandmother of two children fathered by Plaintiff Martinez.
4. Upon information and belief, Defendant Emilio J. Chavez is an individual who resides in Taos County, New Mexico. At all times relevant to this Complaint, Defendant Chavez was an employee of the State of New Mexico, serving as a Deputy District Attorney in the

Eighth Judicial District of New Mexico. Plaintiffs sue Defendant Chavez for acts and omissions occurring while Chavez acted in his investigative, not prosecutorial, capacity.
5. Upon information and belief, Defendant John R. Wentz is an individual who resides in Taos County, New Mexico. At all times relevant to this complaint, Defendant Wentz was an employee of the Town of Taos, serving as a Detective for the Town of Taos Police Department.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

6. Investigating criminal activity prior to the judicial phase of the criminal process was a principal part of Defendant Chavez’s duties as a Deputy District Attorney.
7. The Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office was, at all times relevant to this Complaint, overseen by Donald Gallegos, who was the elected District Attorney for the Eighth Judicial District.
8. Mr. Gallegos has testified that, at all times relevant to this Complaint, the duties of his office were to investigate and prosecute violations of the criminal statutes.
9. Defendant Chavez has testified that as a Deputy District Attorney it was his role to investigate criminal activity, and that he worked “hand-in-hand” with law enforcement in this regard.
10. Defendant Chavez has admitted that the New Mexico Legislature has made a district attorney as much an investigator of crimes as a prosecutor of criminal violations.
11. In the summer of 2012, Defendant Wentz approached Defendant Chavez to come up with a way to obtain, without probable cause, cell phone records of persons of interest who had not yet been charged with crimes.

12. Defendant Wentz and Defendant Chavez jointly came up with a scheme whereby they would issue extra-judicial subpoenas duces tecum to cellular telephone companies in order to obtain cell phone records of persons of interest.
13. The forms of these subpoenas were drafted by Defendant Chavez. Subsequently, Defendant Wentz would prepare the subpoenas, and Defendant Chavez would sign them or cause them to be signed.
14. In the 14-month period between August 2012 and September 2013, Defendant Chavez and Defendant Wentz, as part of their investigative activities, issued or caused to be issued over 100 fraudulent, extra-judicial subpoenas.
15. The subpoenas issued by Defendant Chavez pursuant to the scheme he hatched with Defendant Wentz in the summer of 2012 were fraudulent because Defendant Chavez lacked all lawful authority to issue them.
16. On April 10, 2013, Crystal Martinez, an employee of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Inc. (“Kit Carson”), allegedly was robbed at gunpoint in Kit Carson’s parking lot as she was carrying approximately $200,000 in cash and checks destined for a bank deposit.
17. At the time of the alleged robbery, Plaintiff Casias worked at Kit Carson as a billing supervisor.
18. Shortly after the alleged robbery, Defendant Wentz developed a theory that the robbery was an “inside job.”
19. Defendant Wentz and Defendant Chavez jointly decided that the easiest way to investigate this theory was to obtain cellphone records through the issuance of extra-judicial subpoenas duces tecum as described above.

20. On April 12, 2013, Defendant Chavez issued two fraudulent subpoenas duces tecum to cellular telephone companies, returnable to Defendant Wentz. The April 12 subpoenas directed Verizon Wireless and Cingular to disclose the subscriber/billing information, call detail records, and text message detail for three cell phone numbers over a twelve day period. One of the cellular telephone numbers belonged to Plaintiff Casias.
21. The April 12 subpoenas were fraudulent because Defendant Chavez had absolutely no lawful authority to issue the subpoenas.
22. Defendant Chavez falsely told Verizon Wireless and Cingular in the April 12 subpoenas that they could be held in contempt of court and punished by a fine or imprisonment if they did not comply with his illegal subpoenas.
23. Based on the documents obtained pursuant to the illegal April 12 subpoenas, Defendant Chavez issued at least nine additional fraudulent subpoenas duces tecum to various cellular telephone providers between April 22, 2013 and May 28, 2013, all returnable to Defendant Wentz.
24. Like the illegal April 12 subpoenas, the additional subpoenas issued by Defendant Chavez were fraudulent because Defendant Chavez had no lawful authority to issue the subpoenas. Like he did in the illegal April 12 subpoenas, Defendant Chavez told the recipients of the additional subpoenas that they could be held in contempt of court and punished by a fine or imprisonment if they did not comply with his fraudulent subpoenas.
25. On May 6, 2013, Defendant Wentz, relying on the material he had obtained through Defendant Chavez’s issuance of the fraudulent subpoenas to date, applied for a search warrant in order to obtain the contents of text messages sent to and from Plaintiff Casias’scellular telephone. Upon information and belief, Defendant Chavez reviewed and authorized the application prior to Defendant Wentz submitting it to a judge.
26. In his affidavit in support of his search warrant application, Defendant Wentz falsely swore to a judge of the Eighth Judicial District Court that the data he received from the cellular telephone providers were “lawfully obtained.”
27. Specifically, Defendant Wentz swore to the judge that he had “served subpoenas upon the telephone service providers, for the cellular telephones utilized by . . . Carla Casias [and others], requesting call detail records and text messaging detail.” Defendant Wentz also told the judge that his “analysis” of the records he received pursuant to Defendant Chavez’s illegal subpoenas “strengthen[ed] [his] suspicion to believe that [Plaintiff Casias] was involved in setting up this Robbery” to the exclusion of others.
28. Based on the representations of Defendant Wentz, a judge of the Eighth Judicial District Court, on May 6, 2013, authorized a search warrant so that Defendant Wentz could obtain the contents of Plaintiff Casias’s text messages.
29. Meanwhile, Kit Carson undertook its own investigation of the alleged robbery.

30. On May 8, 2013, Kit Carson polygraphed Crystal Martinez, the alleged victim of the alleged robbery. The polygrapher asked Crystal Martinez three relevant questions: (1) Did you participate in stealing any money from the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative on April 10, 2013?; (2) Regarding the robbery at the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative on April 10th, were you involved in the theft?; and (3) Do you know for sure who did steal the money from the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative deposit on April 10, 2013?
31. Crystal Martinez answered “No” to all three relevant questions posed by the polygrapher.

32. The polygrapher scored Crystal Martinez’s polygraph as a “-9”.

33. The polygrapher stated in a written report: “[I]t is the opinion of the examiner that Crystal Martinez was being deceptive when she answered the above listed relevant questions as noted.”
34. On May 9, 2013, the polygrapher hired by Kit Carson polygraphed Plaintiff Casias. The polygrapher asked Plaintiff Casias the same relevant questions as he did Crystal Martinez, and Plaintiff Casias likewise answered “No” to all three relevant questions.
35. The polygrapher scored Plaintiff Casias’s polygraph as a “+12”.

36. The polygrapher stated in a written report: “[I]t is the opinion of the examiner that Carla Casias was being truthful when she answered the above relevant questions as noted.”
37. Upon information and belief, Kit Carson shared the results of Crystal Martinez and Carla Casias’s polygraphs with Defendant Chavez and/or Defendant Wentz.
38. By May 22, 2013, Defendant Wentz had received the contents of Plaintiff Casias’s text messages pursuant to the May 6, 2013 search warrant. One of the text messages recovered was a text message that Plaintiff Martinez had sent to Plaintiff Casias around the time of the alleged robbery. The text message stated: “Going to Santa Fe.”
39. On May 22, 2013, Defendant Wentz applied for a search warrant to obtain detailed location data of Plaintiff Martinez’s cellular telephone on the date of the alleged robbery. Upon information and belief, Defendant Chavez reviewed and authorized the application prior to Defendant Wentz submitting it to a judge.
40. In his affidavit in support of the search warrant, Defendant Wentz falsely swore to a judge of the Eighth Judicial District Court that he had “lawfully obtained” phone records pertaining to Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias, and that he had obtained a search warrant

for the actual contents of the text messages occurring between Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias.
41. Although Defendant Wentz admitted in his affidavit that he “did not find a ‘smoking gun’” in the contents of the text messages, Defendant Wentz swore to his belief that Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias were “us[ing] ‘coded language’ in an attempt to disguise the true nature of [their] communications.”
42. Based on the representations of Defendant Wentz, a judge of the Eighth Judicial District Court, on May 22, 2013, authorized a search warrant so that Defendant Wentz could obtain the location data pertaining to Plaintiff Martinez’s cellular telephone.
43. On August 1, 2013, Defendant Wentz applied to obtain an arrest warrant from the Eighth Judicial District Court for Plaintiff Martinez, charging him with being accessory to, and conspiring to commit, armed robbery. Upon information and belief, Defendant Chavez reviewed and authorized the application prior to Defendant Wentz submitting it to a judge
44. In his affidavit in support of his application for the arrest warrant, Defendant Wentz again provided false information. Defendant Wentz described how he had analyzed “telephone records that were legally obtained during the course of [his] investigation,” and how he had obtained additional records pursuant to the two search warrants.
45. To obtain the arrest warrant, Defendant Wentz relied on the data that Defendant Chavez had illegally obtained pursuant to the fraudulent subpoenas, and the data derived from the resulting search warrants.
46. Having learned of an outstanding arrest warrant, Plaintiff Martinez turned himself into authorities on August 1, 2013.

47. On August 8, 2013, Defendant Chavez presented Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias’s case to an Eighth Judicial District Court grand jury. Defendant Chavez relied primarily on the testimony of Defendant Wentz to obtain indictments against Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias.
48. During the grand jury proceeding, Defendant Chavez elicited false testimony from Defendant Wentz. Specifically, Defendant Wentz falsely testified that he had the lawful authority to subpoena cellular telephone records whenever he had formed a “reasonable suspicion.”
49. Defendant Wentz relied overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, on the “telephone analysis” he conducted on the data illegally subpoenaed by Defendant Chavez, and the evidence derived therefrom, to testify to his conclusion that Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias were somehow involved in the alleged Kit Carson Robbery.
50. On August 8, 2013, the grand jury indicted Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias on one count of armed robbery (accessory), a second-degree felony, and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, a third-degree felony.
51. On August 9, 2013, Plaintiff Casias was arraigned on the charges and booked at jail. Plaintiff Casias paid $5,000 to a bail bondsman and bonded out of jail. Plaintiff was forced to pay for and wear a GPS location monitoring device as a condition of her release.
52. On August 21, 2013, Plaintiff Martinez was arraigned on the charges. Shortly afterward, Plaintiff Martinez paid $10,000 to a bail bondsman and bonded out of jail. Plaintiff Martinez was forced to pay for and wear a GPS location monitoring device as a condition of his release.

53. The illegal subpoenas were discovered by Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias during the discovery phase of their criminal case. As a result, Plaintiff Martinez moved to quash his indictment with prejudice on October 8, 2013. Plaintiff Casias joined Plaintiff Martinez’s motion.
54. On April 8, 2014, a District Court judge quashed Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias’s indictments with prejudice due to the fact that their indictments were predicated on the acts and omissions of Defendant Chavez and Defendant Wentz described above.
55. Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias have suffered damages as a result of the acts and omissions of Defendant Chavez and Defendant Wentz.
56. Among other things, Plaintiff Martinez was wrongfully held in jail for several weeks, causing him to miss the birth of his daughter. Both Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias have incurred, and will continue to incur, significant attorneys’ fees in defending themselves against the charges stemming from Defendant Wentz and Defendant Chavez’s acts and omissions. In addition, Plaintiff Casias was terminated from her employment and both Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias have seen their reputation affected in the community due to a significant amount of negative press coverage.
CAUSE OF ACTION
Count I: Personal Injury Resulting from Acts and Omissions Waived by NMSA 1978, § 41-4-12 (Defendants Emilio J. Chavez and John R. Wentz)

57. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference the preceding paragraphs as though they were stated fully herein.
58. At all relevant times, Defendant Chavez, acting in an investigative, rather than prosecutorial, capacity, was a law enforcement officer within the meaning of the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, NMSA 1978, § 41-4-1 et seq.

59. At all relevant times, Defendant Wentz was a law enforcement officer within the meaning of the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, NMSA 1978 § 41-4-1 et seq.
60. At all relevant times, Defendant Chavez and Defendant Wentz were acting within the scope of their duties.
61. Defendant Chavez and Defendant Wentz’s acts and/or omissions, individually or in the aggregate, caused numerous torts and constitutional violations to be committed against Plaintiff Martinez and Plaintiff Casias. These include, but are not necessarily limited to:
a. Malicious abuse of process;

b. False imprisonment;

c. False arrest;

d. Defamation of character; and

e. Violation of privileges and immunities secured by Article II, Section 10 of the New Mexico Constitution.

62. Plaintiffs suffered personal and reputational injury as a result of Defendant Chavez and Defendant Wentz’s acts and/or omissions.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE Plaintiffs pray for judgment against Defendants as follows:

A. An award for all special, general, and consequential damages incurred, or to be incurred, by Plaintiffs as the direct and proximate result of the acts and omissions of Defendants;
B. An award of costs as allowed by law;

C. Post-judgment interest as allowed by law; and

D. An award for such other and further relief as the Court may deem necessary and appropriate under the circumstances.

Respectfully submitted,

COBERLY & MARTINEZ, LLLP

/s/ Todd A. Coberly
Todd A. Coberly
A. Nathaniel Chakeres 1322 Paseo de Peralta Santa Fe, NM 87501 (505) 989-1029

Attorneys for Plaintiffs

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