- Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women
ALBUQUERQUE – Randell Lonjose, 35, an enrolled member of the Zuni Pueblo who resides in Albuquerque, pled guilty Thursday in federal court to kidnapping and sexual assault charges under a plea agreement that recommends a 22-year term of imprisonment.
Lonjose also will be required to register as a sex offender after completing his prison sentence.
The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division and Chief Timothy Trimble of the Zuni Pueblo Tribal Police Department.
Lonjose was arrested Aug. 23, 2017, on a criminal complaint charging him with sexually abusing a Zuni Pueblo woman in Aug. 2017. According to the criminal complaint, in the early morning hours of Aug. 14, 2017, Lonjose forced his way into the victim’s vehicle through a side window, brandished a knife at the victim and instructed her to drive the vehicle to a deserted area. There, Lonjose forced the victim out of the vehicle and force her to engage in a sexual act with him.
Lonjose was indicted Sept. 21, 2017, and charged with carjacking, kidnapping, and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse. The indictment alleged that Lonjose committed the crimes Aug. 14, 2017, on Zuni Pueblo in McKinley County.
During Thursday’s proceedings, Lonjose pled guilty to kidnapping and one count of aggravated sexual abuse. In entering the guilty plea, Lonjose admitted that in the early morning hours of Aug. 14, 2017, he forced his way into the victim’s vehicle while the victim was driving, threatened the victim with a knife, and attempted to choke and strangle the victim when she did not comply with his demands. Lonjose admitted that after directing the victim to drive to a deserted area, he forced her to engage in a sexual act with him. Lonjose acknowledged that the areas in which he kidnapped the victim and sexually assaulted her were on Zuni Pueblo.
Lonjose remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Gallup Office of the FBI and the Zuni Pueblo Tribal Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer M. Rozzoni pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was driven largely by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department’s on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.