lujan arrested thumbs up

Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan gave a thumbs up to reporters May 21, 2020 as he was led into the holding cells at the Española Police Department.

Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan was arrested–again.

At 3 p.m. on Thursday (6/4), he turned himself into the New Mexico State Police in Española.

Present were his attorney, Nathaniel Thompkins, and investigators from Ninth Judicial District Attorney Andrea Reeb’s office, Reeb said. 

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Senior Investigator Adriana Munoz believes she has established probable cause to show that Lujan may have committed two felonies: harboring or aiding of a felon, and bribery or intimidation of a witness.

The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office has appointed Reeb to serve as prosecutor in the case, as well as in a prior case against Lujan that is based on multiple charges of resisting, evading or obstructing an officer.

Exactly two weeks ago, Lujan was also arrested after he refused to comply with a search warrant issued in the previous case.

The new charges stem from a March 14, 2017 incident, and, as with previous charges against Lujan, involve former Española city councilor Phillip Chacon.

Around 11 p.m. that night, Española Police Officer Anthony Armijo saw a white Dodge truck enter the Española Police Department parking lot and pull up next to a silver truck registered to Chacon, according to Munoz’s affidavit for arrest warrant.

The alarm of the silver truck began sounding.

Armijo recalled that the white truck fit the description of a vehicle in an Officer Safety bulletin, and then watched the white truck leave the parking lot at high speed in an “erratic manner,” the affidavit states.

Armijo followed the white truck in his patrol car, ran its license plate and found that the registration was suspended.

At a red light, the driver of the white truck began driving in reverse toward the patrol car at high speed. Armijo believed the driver was trying to ram into his vehicle and had to quickly reverse to avoid being hit.

When the light turned green, the driver began fleeing eastbound on State Road 584, and Armijo turned on his sirens and lights and called for backup. The truck made an abrupt left turn against a red light.

Armijo and Española Police Officer Ernest Saucedo pursued the white truck, but the driver only sped up, traveling north at speeds of over 110 miles per hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone.

Nearing city limits, the officers stopped pursuing the vehicle, after they watched local traffic pulling up on a sidewalk to avoid a collision.

Central dispatch then received a call from the driver of the white truck, who was identified as Chacon.

Chacon, who was now outside of city limits, said Española Police had been chasing him. He said the pursuit was illegal and that he wanted to speak with New Mexico State Police.

Central dispatch advised County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Lattin about the chase. Lattin learned of Chacon’s location through GPS–Chacon at that point was near mile marker 6 on State Road 68–and contacted Española Police to inform them that he would try to find Chacon and that he needed to serve Chacon with a temporary restraining order.

Chacon’s wife had filed the restraining order earlier that day.

On his way, Lattin observed a black SUV, with sirens and lights on, and asked dispatch whether any other emergency was occurring in the area. Dispatch reported that there was no other emergency.

Lattin then watched the driver of the black SUV shut the sirens and off and pull into a parking area off Highway 68. Lattin approached and realized that the driver was Sheriff Lujan.

Lujan told Lattin that Chacon called Lujan to tell him that Española Police were illegally chasing Chacon.

Sheriff Lujan relayed to Officer Lattin his “discontent with city police '' and said that they needed to stop harassing Chacon, according to the affidavit.

Then Lujan received a phone call, which came through the car’s speakers via Bluetooth, and the voice on the other end of the line belonged to Chacon.

Lujan instructed Lattin to follow him, but not to tell anyone where they were going. Lattin followed Lujan to Chacon’s residence in Española. There, Lujan knocked on the door and asked Lattin whether he had the restraining order with which Lattin needed to serve Chacon.

Lattin did not, so he called Deputy Ernest Garcia, who brought the paperwork and left immediately, after observing that Lujan was standing near Chacon’s door.

Lattin heard Lujan instruct Chacon to gather his belongings. Chacon left the house with a duffel bag, which he placed in the backseat of Lujan’s car, and sat in the passenger seat.

Lujan told Lattin not to tell anyone what he saw and drove off with Chacon.

Lattin was scared of reporting the behavior at the time, because he was afraid of retaliation or losing his job.

“Officer Lattin was aware of Sheriff Lujan’s pattern of conduct and knew him to be vindictive,” the affidavit states.

That night, Lujan had called dispatch and spoken with Dispatcher Alejandro de la Rosa, demanding to know what phone number Chacon was calling from and also requesting recordings of the pursuit, saying not to tell anyone about the request.

Officer Saucedo remembers calling Lattin after the pursuit three times, and on one of the calls, overheard Lujan telling Lattin, “Don’t f****** tell anyone where we are at or what we are doing.”

Lattin a couple weeks later told Saucedo Lujan had “chewed out Lattin,” the affidavit states.

On March 15, 2017, Lujan again contacted de la Rosa about his request for the recording. De la Rosa was not able to take the call, and Lujan later confronted him in the Dispatch center parking lot, questioning De la Rosa, accusing him of leaking information about the incident, and not allowing him to re-enter the dispatch building or contact his director about the incident.

De la Rosa said he resigned because of Lujan’s intimidation and accusations, according to the affidavit.

In a March 16 letter, Lujan informed 911 Board Chairperson and City Councilor Peggy Sue Martinez that he was notified about the March 14 pursuit and contacted de la Rosa requesting information about it.

He wrote in the letter that he told de la Rosa not to tell anyone about his requests and corroborated de la Rosa’s account of the confrontation in the parking lot.

“However, Sheriff Lujan’s claims are that he is only informing Ms. Martinez about the incident due to a security breach,” the affidavit states.

That Lujan was in contact with Chacon during the chase and instructed Chacon to gather his belongings and then drove him away in his patrol car, when he knew Española Police were trying to locate him on a charge of aggravated fleeing of law enforcement, amounts to harboring or aiding a felon, the affidavit states.

Lujan’s repeated instructions to Lattin not to tell anyone about what he was doing, when Lattin was in fear of retaliation or losing his job, amount to intimidation of a witness, the affidavit states.

Los Alamos Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados will preside over Lujan's arraignment, which will occur on Monday at 9 a.m. Lujan was released shortly after his arrest, on the same conditions he was released after his first arrest.

This story is breaking and will be updated with more information shortly.

(3) comments

John Martinez

So when is a warrant or IPRA is substantiated for Peggy Sue's telephone? After hearing all of this that's going on, its hard to believe that Sherriff Lujan and Peggy Sue only spoke about a security breach.

nmflyer

AND HE IS STILL THE SHERIFF, INCREDIBLE

Evil gringo

This is so much fun to watch. We outsiders see it so clearly. All the naked corruption, nepotism, cronyism and political favoritism that keeps this area in a hole. Well, its slowly becoming impossible to hode or get away with. From this clown to jemez to local and county government...so fun to watch the circus.

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