Once again we are beholden to First Judicial District Judge Jason Lidyard for holding the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office responsible for a horrible plea agreement with Henrietta Trujillo. This was the second time Lidyard would not sign off on a sweetheart deal for Trujillo.
Trujillo has admitted to stealing about $249,000 from Northern New Mexico College over the course of two years, while serving as finance director. About $167,000 was in checks, which were never cashed. The other $82,000 was cash and it’s assumed that all went to Buffalo Thunder Casino where Trujillo gambled away over $520,000 over the course of nine years.
Our illustrious District Attorney was willing to let Trujillo serve three to six months under house arrest, five years probation and reimburse Northern $80,000. No prison time.
Lidyard was having none of that. Before he denied the agreement he told an interesting and pertinent story about a man who had come before him who had a drug addiction and was burglarizing homes to feed it.
Lidyard spoke about having the man assessed and considered his chances at rehabilitation in prison. Most importantly, the man stood before the judge a repentant man, admitting guilt, seeking help and willing to do what the judge imposed.
The judge compared Trujillo to the drug addict and saw similarities in their crimes and vast differences in the punishments. The man got prison time with rehab tied to it. When was released from prison he had to compensate his victims.
Trujillo was looking at no prison time. Lidyard also addressed the unlikely event of Trujillo giving $80,000 to Northern. He not so subtly questioned the execution of recompense because of her age and ability to find employment that would pay her enough to meet the five-year payment plan to Northern.
So it’s back to square one, again, with the Trujillo case. She is now scheduled for trial in January but with our current trial schedule during the virus crisis, it’s doubtful that will happen.
We thank Judge Lidyard for protecting taxpayers and forcing the D.A.’s office to properly prosecute Trujillo. Fortunately, in January we’ll have a new D.A. and we’ll bet they have received Lidyard’s message and will pick up this case and run with it.