ALBUQUERQUE—(Former Springer police chief) Leon Herrera, 37, of Las Vegas, N.M., pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to falsely impersonating a federal officer.
Herrera entered his guilty plea to a felony information charging him with impersonating a Special Agent of the DEA Dec. 15, 2014, in Colfax County. In his plea agreement, Herrera admitted that he committed the crime at the behest of a friend who was then employed as a deputy sheriff in Colfax County (friend).
According to Herrera’s plea agreement, Herrera received a call Dec. 15, 2014, from his friend while the friend was conducting a traffic stop on motorists he believed to be drug traffickers. The friend reported to Herrera that he found approximately $8,000 cash in the motorists’ vehicle. The friend then asked Herrera to speak with one of the motorists and tell him that he was a DEA Special Agent and intended to seize the currency as proceeds of criminal activity.
Herrera acquiesced in his friend’s request and had a conversation with one of the motorists during which he falsely identified himself as a representative of the DEA and would be seizing the money for law enforcement purposes. The plea agreement states that the friend told him that he intended to keep the currency for his personal use, and offered to give $1,000 to Herrera for assisting him.
In his plea agreement, Herrera acknowledges that he later learned that the motorists were undercover law enforcement officers and that the currency seized from their vehicle, $7,500, belonged to the FBI.
At sentencing, Herrera faces a statutory maximum penalty of three years in prison followed by up to one year of supervised release. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Santa Fe and Albuquerque offices of the FBI and the New Mexico State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean J. Sullivan is prosecuting the case.