As the end of 2017 draws near, the Los Alamos community remains at a relatively low crime level, however this past year a group of cases took center stage; Operation Spring Cleaning, the stabbing of a local man and several incidents related to Smith’s Marketplace.
Some of the cases that drew the most attention in 2017:
OPERATION SPRING CLEANING, a March 20 drug sweep, which netted seven arrests, was the result of some four months of work by the Los Alamos Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Team members, Det. Sgt. James Rodriguez, Det. Ryan Wolking and Det. Matthew Lyon. LAPD was assisted the morning of the operation by personnel from New Mexico State Police, the New Mexico Department of Corrections and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency who provided additional manpower, drug-sniffing dogs and helicopter support. The LAPD detectives and other LAPD officers were front and center on the searches of all six residences and a vehicle.
Arrested were: Nicholas Conner, Allan Houle, Byron Henderson, Anthony Knief, Nichole Marsh, Amanda Osbourne and Kathy Gibbons. In the weeks prior to the operation, a total of 16 drug purchases were made from the suspects by a confidential informant.
Nicholas Conner was sentenced Dec. 7 to four years in prison on five counts of trafficking of methamphetamine. Fifth Judicial District Judge T. Glenn Ellington imposed the maximum sentence of 45 years, suspended 41 of those years and ordered five years of supervised probation and the mandatory two years of parole.
Anthony Knief was sentenced Sept. 25 to nine years of incarceration for each of two trafficking charges by Chief Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer with both sentences suspended. Knief will be on supervised probation for five years. Under the terms of a plea agreement reached with Deputy District Attorney Kent Wahlquist, 18 other drug-related charges against Knief were dismissed.
Amanda Osbourne was granted a conditional discharge June 2 under the terms of a plea agreement in which she pleaded guilty to counts of trafficking methamphetamine. She was placed on supervised probation for five years and ordered to enter an inpatient treatment program for six months. Four counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of possession of a controlled substance were dismissed under the plea agreement.
Nichole Marsh was charged with trafficking, possession of a controlled substance and three counts of dangerous drugs for sale. She is scheduled for a plea conference Feb. 1 in District Court.
Allan Houle is awaiting sentencing in District Court under the terms of a plea agreement. He has pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking of a controlled substance. Five counts of use or possession of drug paraphernalia were to be dismissed. Under the plea agreement, the sentence for each count is to be nine to 18 years with five years of supervised probation and under the agreement Houle would serve a maximum of four years on each count.
Byron Henderson is slated for a plea conference Jan. 4 in District Court in two cases involving four counts of trafficking, one count of possession of dangerous drugs, one count of conspiracy to sell dangerous drugs and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Kathy Gibbons died Aug. 13, 2017.
ELDERLY WOMAN BEATEN AND ROBBED: When a Los Alamos woman in her 80s was followed home from Smith’s Marketplace Friday, May 12, by two women and beaten and robbed outside her garage, the community responded with shock that this type of crime had happened here.
The victim said that while she was getting ready to put her purchases into the trunk of her car in the Smith’s parking lot, a young woman asked if she could help her. The victim said she declined the help, but the young woman insisted.
After the young woman left, the victim said she got into her car, stowed her cane and placed her purse on the passenger’s seat. Soon after, she said the young woman tapped on the passenger side window and asked if she could have 50 cents. The victim opened her purse in full view of the young woman, took out her billfold and gave the young woman 50 cents from the coin pocket.
The victim drove home and parked in her driveway. As she began to unload her purchases, a different woman appeared beside her and asked for directions and then left. Shortly thereafter the victim said she saw a reflection in her glasses of a woman lunging toward her.
When she turned around, she said the woman slammed her head against the lid of the trunk. The victim said she screamed and kicked her attacker repeatedly in the crotch area, but the woman struck her in the face, took her purse and ran off. To date, this case remains unsolved.
AUGUST 2017 was a rough month for Smith’s Marketplace with LAPD reporting seven shoplifting cases and one robbery at the property. One incident, which occurred around 9 p.m. Aug. 27 involved the robbery of a local woman in her car in the Smith’s parking lot. The victim told police a Hispanic male reached into her vehicle and removed her purse. Another woman reported being approached by a man who told her to give him her purse. She yelled at the man and he eventually left the parking lot in a vehicle with another man.
SHOPLIFTERS ATTEMPT TO RUN DOWN LAPD OFFICER: On Aug. 25 charges were filed against two men arrested by the LAPD shortly before 10 p.m. after they fled from Smith’s Marketplace in a pick-up and attempted to run down LAPD Cpl. Robert Larsen. One shot was fired by Larsen during the incident and the truck struck two cars and several mail boxes.
Joel Martin, 30, of Albuquerque, was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon, aggravated fleeing of a police officer, receiving a stolen vehicle, accidents involving damage to vehicle, criminal damage to property, leaving the scene of an accident, false evidence of title and registration, possession of a firearm by a felon, conspiracy to commit shoplifting of more than $500 and shoplifting of more than $250 and not more than $2,500. Judge Ellington issued a bench warrant for Martin when he failed to appear in District Court Dec. 18 for a status hearing.
Stephen Montano, 22, of Grants was charged with resisting arrest, shoplifting of more than $500 but less than $2,500, conspiracy to commit shoplifting of $500 but not more than $2,500, failure to give information and render aid, criminal damage to property, and shoplifting of more than $250 but less than $500. Montano remains incarcerated in Cibola County on charges in two cases there. He is slated for a status hearing Jan. 12 before Los Alamos Magistrate Judge Pat Casados.
In a more recent incident, two Espanola men were arrested Dec. 4 after one of them allegedly attempted to run down Cpl. James Keane in the Smith’s Marketplace parking lot. Both men are slated for preliminary hearings in the new year.
Louis Martinez of Espanola was charged in Magistrate Court with aggravated assault upon a police officer, aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault upon a police officer, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, driving under the influence, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Andrew Gallegos, of Fairview, a passenger in the vehicle, was charged with two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor; accessory to a crime; resisting, evading or obstructing an officer, possession of drug paraphernalia, selling or giving alcoholic beverages to minors, possession of controlled substances, violating the liquor control substance act for a minor in possession, and possession of one ounce or less of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids.
NOV. 4 STABBING INCIDENT: Andrea Rivera, 30, of Los Alamos remains in custody pending trial on two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and one count of tampering with evidence. Judge Pat Casados has stayed the case pending the results of a competency hearing for Rivera.
The charges relate to a Nov. 3 incident in which Rivera is accused of stabbing Cory Kerschner multiple times and also injuring her sister, Sarah Cooper, with a knife during the same incident. River allegedly left the scene and disposed of her clothing resulting in the tampering with evidence charge.
ASHLEY GARCIA, of Hernandez who was involved in a March 9 shoplifting incident that ended with a local man being struck by a vehicle outside Bealls Department Store in the Mari-Mac Shopping Center, was sentenced Dec.13 to two years in the Women’s Correctional Facility by Judge Ellington. She will be on supervised probation for four years following her incarceration.
Garcia entered a global plea for charges in Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Rio Arriba Counties of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, forgery and two counts of shoplifting of more than $500. Under the agreement Garcia was sentenced to six years but will only serve four. She was ordered to pay $1,028 to Bealls and restitution of $1,100 to the victim in the Rio Arriba case. She will also be required to pay the yet to be determined restitution to the man struck by her car in the Los Alamos case.
CHRISTOPHER DAVIS was sentenced July 6 to eight years in prison after Judge Marlowe Sommer. Davis had been charged with some 22 sexual offenses against minors, most of them in 2014, including 10 charges of criminal sexual penetration of a minor child aged between 13 and 16.
Davis was arrested in January on a warrant from the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General after a fourth violation of the conditions of his release. Davis had contacted what he believed to be a 16-year-old Missouri girl online and subsequently sent “her” a package containing a doll and jewelry. The behavior itself was not illegal but was in violation of the Court’s orders.
In February, he was granted probation under a plea agreement reached by Assistant Attorney General Anthony W. Long and Defense Attorney Dorie Biagianti Smith when he pleaded guilty and faced between one to 10 years in prison.
JOSEPH DIMAS was sentenced Feb. 17 by Judge Marlowe Sommer to 10 years of supervised probation and ordered to register as a sex offender. He also was ordered to avoid all contact with minors under the age of 16 with the exception of his own children.
Dimas was sentenced after he pled guilty to a charge of child solicitation by electronic communication device (child aged 13 to 16). A second charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor was dismissed under a plea reached between Deputy District Attorney Kent Wahlquist and Defense Attorney Stephen Aarons. Dimas was arrested in October 2016 and charged with conducting a relationship with a 13-year-old girl that was developed over several months. Police reports also indicated text messages, which “involved sexual content” were exchanged and the victim sent Dimas sexual photographs of herself. Video retrieved from the transit company allegedly shows the physical contact between Dimas and the victim.
SCOTT MALLORY, arrested in January 2016 after forensic searches of his computer revealed images of young female teenagers, some of which were focused on the clothed breast area and 250 items bookmarked as “child erotica and child pornography” awaits the results of an appeal. Mallory was charged with sexual exploitation of children under 18 years by visual media.
The appeal was filed in May by Deputy District Attorney Kent Wahlquist and claims Judge Ellington erred in finding that Mallory’s wife told Los Alamos Police Mallory was “possibly viewing child pornography” when there was no evidence of such a statement by her. Judge Ellington ruled that Mallory’s spousal privilege was violated and information on his computer and any statements made by Mallory to police were to be suppressed. A ruling on the appeal is expected at any time.
DAVID RAEL, 40, of Los Alamos was sentenced Nov. 1 to nine years for each of three counts of sexual exploitation of children – manufacture, three years for one count of sexual exploitation of children – possession and 1.5 year for one count of sexual exploitation -distribution. Judge Marlowe Sommer ordered the sentences to run concurrently for a total of nine years of incarceration. Rael will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
DUSTIN BINGHAM, 37, a former Santa Fe Deputy Sheriff and Los Alamos Detention Officer, is awaiting sentencing on five charges of criminal sexual contact with minors. The criminal complaint filed by Deputy District Attorney Michael Nunez Aug. 2 listed the charges as: criminal sexual contact of a minor in the second degree (child under 13) unclothed; criminal sexual contact of a minor in the third degree (child under 13) clothed; criminal sexual contact of a minor in the fourth degree; child solicitation by electronic communication device; and sexual exploitation of children (possession). Bingham has signed a plea agreement and will serve a minimum of three years in prison.
JAMES JEREMIAH DYSON, 42, was sentenced to three years in prison Aug. 7 on charges of sexual exploitation of children and failure to register as a sex offender. Under the terms of a global repeat offender plea and disposition signed in April, Dyson agreed to plead no contest. He received credit for more than 500 days of incarceration already served and will have one year of parole.
Dyson was on federal probation for 2010 conviction on a charge of possession of matters containing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually-explicit conduct when an Internet Crimes Against Children task force from the Attorney General’s Office traced child pornography to his computer IP address.