No Report, No Drug Test after Accident

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Tomas Campos public works crash

Rio Arriba County Manager Tomas Campos at first refused to answer any questions regarding the Public Works Building Maintenance Supervisor Jacob Montoya’s November 2018 vehicle accident. “No,” he wrote in an Aug. 9 text message. “I am not speaking to your paper.”

Rio Arriba County Public Works Building Maintenance Supervisor Jacob Montoya crashed a County truck at the end of November 2018, but multiple County officials deny having any insurance documents or accident reports related to the crash, despite the County government paying nearly $5,000 to repair the vehicle.

Public Works Administrator Napoleon Garcia said during an Aug. 8 interview that he received a telephone call Dec. 3, 2018 from someone saying they saw Montoya’s crashed vehicle in the yard at his home in Canjilon. Garcia would not say from whom he received the tip.

Garcia said he contacted Montoya, who confirmed he had crashed his 2012 Ford F-350 Power Stroke.

A letter written by Garcia Jan. 8 outlined the steps taken to discipline Montoya for his actions, as well as the cause of the accident.

“(Montoya’s) version was that (he) had run off the roadway hitting a traffic sign on the previous Friday as (he) was reaching for some keys that fell to the floor board,” the letter states. “(Montoya) did not report this accident as required by County policy, or go for a post-accident drug screening.”

Garcia and County Manager Tomas Campos held a pre-disciplinary hearing with Montoya Dec. 11, 2018, eight days after someone reported the accident.

Garcia suspended Montoya without pay for three days due to his failure to follow the County’s vehicle use policy for reporting an accident, the Jan. 8 letter states.

A July 31 Inspection of Public Records Act request yielded no insurance information or accident reports regarding Montoya’s accident.

Risk Management Director Sophie Martinez wrote in an Aug. 8 email that “this accident was not reported to me so therefore, I don’t have any documentation.”

Garcia also said Aug. 8 that he had no insurance documents or accident report forms for the vehicle.

Martinez’ name appears on multiple invoices and payment orders from Morfin’s Auto Body.

She initialed a Jan. 23 invoice from Morfin’s Auto Body along with the words “OK to pay.”

Martinez said in an Aug. 13 telephone interview that while she signed the invoice, she was never given any information about the accident despite asking management for it.

All invoices from Morfin’s Auto Body go through her office and she signs them, she said, because the company has to get paid for the work it completes.

“When this came to light, I questioned it and I never saw the pictures (of the accident),” she said.

Not only did she not see any photos, she did not see any repair estimates or an accident report, she said. She would have followed the County policy had she received the report.

“I asked and nobody gave me anything,” she said.

The invoice is for $4,616, which includes $2,980 for parts and materials, $652 for labor to paint the truck, $855 for additional labor and $128 in taxes.

A detailed receipt shows the County purchased a right mirror, right fender, right headlamp, right headlamp bracket, front bumper, lower grille, middle grille, upper grille and left grille.

The fender, bumper, hood and right door all had to be painted, the receipt shows.

The payment order shows the repairs were paid for using the insurance deductible account.

Campos said in an Aug. 9 email that Public Works Clerk Cathy Martinez “auto-filed” the report.

When asked what auto-filed means, Sophie Martinez said she has no idea.

Campos also wrote that the County’s insurance deductible is $5,000.

Sophie Martinez said during the Aug. 13 telephone interview that the insurance deductible for Montoya’s vehicle is $5,000.

The County changed its vehicle insurance policy last year and increased individual vehicle deductibles as a way to save money on their insurance rate she said.

Montoya’s time sheets show he did not go to work or get paid for Jan. 22, 23 and 24.

His truck’s mileage records indicate he was still using his vehicle during his suspension.

The last three digits for his ending mileage Jan. 22 is listed as 390. The next day, Jan. 23, his starting mileage is at 420. His mileage is listed as 450 on Jan. 24.

County violations

Montoya broke the County’s vehicle use policy and failed to follow procedures for reporting accidents or vandalism.

The policy states if a County employee is involved in an accident, they must report it to law enforcement, their supervisor and the risk management director immediately.

A vehicle accident report must be completed within 24 hours of the accident and given to the risk management director.

Garcia said the reason Montoya did not take a drug or alcohol test after the accident is because of the amount of time that lapsed between the incident and when he learned of it.

The County’s employee policy states an employee who refuses to submit to a drug test can be immediately terminated.

New Mexico State Police did not return an email asking if they completed a crash report about Montoya’s accident.

Campos said to refer all questions regarding a report to the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s Office Maj. Randy Sanches did not return a phone call by press time inquiring if the Office took the report.

It is unknown what happened to the traffic sign Montoya crashed into and who paid for its repair.

Campos said he was not responsible for the situation.

“You ain’t got me,” Campos wrote in an Aug. 9 text message. “You got (Sophie Martinez.)”

(1) comment

Jo Jo

Wow!! Mismanagement at its finest. Kudos for Ms. Martinez for not covering it up. Hope she does not get retaliated against.

Not to mention, stories like this only welcomes a perception of wrong doing. True or not, there are lessons to be learned here on how our tax dollars are being spent. How many of these stories go unpublished? What about the recent wrongful termination the county had to pay out on? One thing is for sure, change is not taking place with our newly elected commissioners.

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