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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in New Mexico say a former Roman Catholic priest has died just weeks before he was scheduled to go on trial after he was accused of raping a young girl at an Albuquerque parochial school decades ago. The New Mexico attorney general's office said 82-year-old Sabine Griego died last week. The trial was scheduled to begin Nov. 16. A judge had released Griego on his own recognizance, so he was not in custody while awaiting trial. Albuquerque-based attorney Levi Monagle, who is representing the survivors in the criminal lawsuit, says his death is "deeply disheartening" to survivors.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — According to a state agency, only about $20 million of a $400 million loan program for New Mexico small businesses hit by the pandemic has been approved to send out since the program began in August. In a presentation to the state legislature Tuesday, the agency tasked with distributing the low-interest loans said legislators might want to make it easier to qualify. Around 85% of those businesses that didn't qualify for the Small Business Recovery Loan Fund failed to meet the requirement of showing a loss of at least 30% of revenue in April and May compared with the same time in 2019. As written, the statute does not allow flexibility in the program for businesses that are less than a year old and therefore can't compare revenues.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Democratic candidate in an open New Mexico House race is acknowledging his participation in two pornographic films in the 1980s as a college student. The revelation about Roger Montoya of Velarde emerged as the nationally heralded arts educator runs for office in a sprawling rural legislative district. Montoya says he was young and naive when he participated in the films and is not proud of it. The state Republican Party on Monday called on Montoya to withdraw from the political race based on "unacceptable" risky and dangerous behavior. Leading Democrats have rallied in support of Montoya.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican congressional candidate Michelle Garcia Holmes discussed her campaign alone on local network television Tuesday after incumbent U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland declined an invitation for a live-broadcast debate. During five minutes of free broadcast time, Garcia Holmes said she believes negotiations on a new federal recovery package should continue in order to help a state with surging unemployment, homelessness and other hardships related to COVID-19. President Donald Trump on Tuesday declared there would be no action before the election on economic-stimulus legislation. Haaland spokesman Scott Forrester says the congresswoman still plans to participate this week in candidate interviews on New Mexico PBS and a pre-recorded debate on KOAT. 


PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Border Patrol has once again made arrests at a camp operated by a faith-based volunteer group that seeks to end migrant deaths in the desert. The agency announced Monday night that it had executed a search warrant at one of the camps by No More Deaths in southern Arizona, near Arivaca. Agents took 12 immigrants into custody and detained seven volunteers for several hours but did not criminally charge them. Experts say the Monday incident fits a pattern of increasing hostility and criminalization of humanitarian aid work. The Border Patrol said the group was "harboring" immigrants in the country illegally. 


FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. interior secretary has refused to delay a land-use plan that opponents say will lead to drilling thousands of new oil and gas wells. The Farmington Daily Times reported U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt says the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs will go forward with the plan for the Greater Chaco region. A public comment period ended last month after being extended from May because of the coronavirus pandemic. Opponents say the health conditions have not changed and further action should be paused until in-person meetings can resume.


FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors say a teen will serve two years in juvenile detention for fatally shooting another Farmington teenager with a rifle last December. Farmington police said an investigation showed the weapon discharged while a group of teenagers was inside a vehicle. They say 16-year-old Elijah Chavez was shot in the torso and died in his bed at home. The Farmington Daily Times reports the then-15-year-old suspect was arrested in December 2019 for involuntary manslaughter and negligent use of a deadly weapon. He was convicted during a three-day trial in August at Farmington District Court and was sentenced to no more than two years by a judge last month. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal law enforcement authorities are stepping up their vigilance of any possible civil rights violations related to the Nov. 3 election by establishing an FBI command post in Albuquerque and assigning a prosecutor to monitor complaints or threats. The precautionary effort is unprecedented in recent memory and was announced at a joint news conference Monday attended by New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and officials from the FBI and U.S. attorney's office. The process of tallying ballots is likely to take more time amid partisan monitoring efforts because of a massive surge in absentee balloting in response to the coronavirus pandemic.