State Auditors Probe Unreported County 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.”

The New Mexico Office of the State Auditor sent a letter to Rio Arriba County Manager Tomas Campos asking for information about a November 2018 vehicle crash involving Public Works Building Maintenance Supervisor Jacob Montoya.

The letter, dated Aug. 22, states officials became aware of the incident after an article about it appeared in the news media. Attached to the letter was a copy of the Aug. 15 Rio Grande SUN article about the accident.

“The Office of the State Auditor has been made aware of information reported in the news media regarding an incident involving (County) employees, resources and the potential non-compliance with County policies regarding use of public resources,” Office Special Investigations Division Director Shawn Beck wrote.

The letter asks Campos to provide the information no later than 15 days after the receipt of the letter, which is Sept. 6.

Beck asked for documentation about the crash and the repair of the vehicle “that support policies and procedures were followed.”

Montoya crashed a County-issued truck but did not report it to his supervisor or the County’s risk management director.

Public Works Administrator Napoleon Garcia said he received a telephone call Dec. 3, 2018 from someone saying they saw the crashed vehicle in Montoya’s front yard at his home in Canjilon. Garcia did not say who called him to give him the tip.

Garcia and Campos held a pre-disciplinary hearing with Montoya eight days later due to his failure to follow the County’s vehicle use policy for reporting an accident.

Garcia sent a letter to Montoya, dated Jan. 8, telling him he would be suspended for three days without pay.

The County’s vehicle use policy states if an employee is involved in an accident, they must report it to the risk management director, their supervisor and law enforcement immediately. They must also complete an accident report and give it to the risk management director within 24 hours.

Montoya did not take a drug test after the vehicle crash because of the amount of time that lapsed between the accident and when County officials learned of it, Garcia said.

Commissioners Danny Garcia and Leo Jaramillo did not return phone calls by press time inquiring about their knowledge and response to the letter.

“As a commissioner, I will evaluate this matter further and take action accordingly, within my authority and responsibility,” Commissioner James J. Martinez wrote in a Monday text message.

Deputy County Manager Leo Marquez said Tuesday he had not yet seen the letter.

Campos also did not return a Tuesday telephone message inquiring about his response to the letter.

A records request for insurance paperwork related to the crash did not yield any documents.

Risk Management Director Sophie Martinez said she did not have any documents related to the crash. A records request for invoices for the repair of the vehicle returned invoices from Morfin’s Auto Body, the Santa Cruz-based shop that fixed the vehicle at a cost of nearly $5,000.

State Auditor Brian Colón wrote in an email that New Mexicans are tired of excuses when it comes to governmental officials willfully neglecting to follow policies and procedures .

"It's not just important that the (Office) intercede in situations such as this, it's my responsibility as State Auditor to hold governmental entities and public officials accountable to taxpayers with independent verification."

(1) comment

AikenAlive and Well

This is Par for the Course!!

It’s disgusting and no wonder the Valley is always the butt of the jokes... unfortunately Votes have been bought for decades by the machine! I will continue to carry Wayne Aiken’s Voice

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