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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. MDT


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A lawyer for a now-former Albuquerque police officer denies allegations that his client wrongly collected thousands of dollars of overtime pay while serving as the department's spokesman. Attorney Sam Bregman told the Albuquerque Journal that allegations in a police department news release regarding former Officer Simon Drobik are "absolutely false." The department's statement Friday said an internal investigation concluded that Drobik violated policies on overtime pay and would have been fired if he hadn't retired during the investigation. According to the department, Drobik got paid for work he didn't perform while multiple supervisors looked the other way. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico on Saturday reported record numbers of additional COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, breaking daily records set in recent days as the state's coronavirus outbreak continued to flare. Officials reported 875 new cases and five additional deaths, increasing the state's totals to 41,040 cases and 965 deaths. The case record broken Saturday was 827 reported Wednesday. The number of coronavirus hospitalizations reported increased to 264 up from a record 229 on Friday that topped the previous high of 223 from mid-May. As of Saturday, patients hospitalized for COVID-19 and other reasons filled 80% of the state's general hospital beds and 76% of intensive care beds.


WILLIAMS, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation vice president is part of a vocal minority pushing Donald Trump's agenda in areas long considered Democratic territory. Myron Lizer argues that Native American values of hard work, family and ranching align more with the GOP than with Democrats. It's difficult to say how most tribal members vote because the majority do not live on reservations and county lines don't align with tribal voters. Historically, Native Americans have been considered the Democratic Party's constituency. Lizer says he wants to shake up that belief. He and other Native Americans well-known in Republican circles recently helped launch a Native Americans for Trump coalition.


ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — A former Alamogordo police officer has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a 2019 wreck in Roswell in which one person was killed and two others injured. Luke Maxwell Towner faces a Dec. 14 hearing after pleading guilty Thursday in state District Court to homicide by vehicle, aggravated DWI and great bodily harm. The Roswell Daily Record reports that Judge James Hudson said a plea agreement recommends a 15-year sentence, including 12 years in prison and three years suspended and served on supervised probation. Court documents indicate Towner was driving at 70 mph when his pickup rear-ended a vehicle at a traffic light. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The federal government is providing a $278,000 grant to a New Mexico district attorney's office to hire a local prosecutor to try firearms cases in federal court. The U.S. Attorney's Office for New Mexico announced Friday that the grant was awarded to the office of District Attorney Lemuel L. Martinez of the 13th Judicial District. The district includes Cibola, Sandoval and Valencia counties. The U.S. Attorney's Office said the grant supports efforts to reduce violence as part of initiatives across the country. Martinez said state prosecutors face significant challenges in going after dangerous offenders and he said the grant provides an incentive for state and local law enforcement to work with federal authorities.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Federal Communications Commission has granted broadcast licenses to dozens of rural tribal governments. The commission said Friday an initial 154 licenses of 2.5 gigahertz were awarded to Native American communities. That includes about 20 in New Mexico and Arizona. The spectrum had long been reserved for educational institutions. Tribes fought to be first in line for a new batch of licenses for the wireless technology that is ideal for sending high-speed internet wirelessly. Around 400 tribes applied for the permits as internet access becomes crucial for health and education during the coronavirus pandemic.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has rejected a settlement challenge in a lawsuit over an alleged "pay-to-play" scheme dating back to the administration of Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that former state Educational Retirement Board Investment Chief Frank Foy filed the lawsuit in 2008, claiming the state lost about $90 million in bad investment deals. Neither Richardson nor any member of his administration was charged with a crime. Foy's attorney Victor Marshall opposed the settlement agreement, appealed the lower court ruling and then challenged the denied appeal. Foy can now appeal the case the U.S. Supreme Court. Marshall said he was not able to comment.


SAN DIEGO (AP) — A top adviser to President Donald Trump says a key second-term priority on immigration, if the president is reelected, would be using agreements with Central American governments as models to get countries around the world to field asylum claims from people seeking refuge in the United States. Stephen Miller, a key architect of Trump's immigration policies, tells The Associated Press that the agreements would help stop "asylum fraud, asylum shopping and asylum abuse on a global scale." Like many of Trump's policies that have dramatically transformed the U.S. immigration system, the bilateral agreements are being challenged in court.