Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST
- SCHOOL SECURITY GUARD-SEXUAL ABUSE
LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — A former Las Vegas, New Mexico, school security guard has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a female student. The Las Vegas Optic reports 53-year-old Abran Ulibarri pleaded guilty Monday to criminal sexual penetration of a minor, three counts of false imprisonment, criminal solicitation to commit tampering with evidence and bribery of a witness. Attorney General Hector Balderas announced the agreement, commending the 14-year-old victim for coming forward. Las Vegas police initially investigated the allegations but then the state took over. Investigators say Ulibarri and the girl, a student at West Las Vegas Middle School, had a sexual relationship for months in 2019 Ulibarri faces up to 10 years in prison.
- ALBUQUERQUE-OVERNIGHT CRIME SPREE
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police say a man accused of a trail of crimes including home invasions, car jackings and three kidnappings remains on the loose. Authorities say the suspect went on a crime spree beginning late Sunday night near Elm Street and Thaxton Avenue. The man allegedly broke into a home and forced a woman to drive with him in her car. He then left her at another home where he opened fire and fled in a vehicle from there. He is accused of then abducting two women in their car from a gas station. They were later found. They say the man then broke into a third home and took a car there.
- PANDEMIC AID BIDS CANCELED
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — City officials in Las Cruces have canceled results of a process that solicited bids from organizations seeking federal pandemic aid, after an audit found procurement code violations and inconsistent project eligibility practices. The Las Cruces Sun News reports that a Feb. 17 email to bidders said the selection process had been canceled in the "best interest of the city." But the newspaper says the City Council still can act Tuesday to approve funding to nine recommended projects chosen from among 21 bidders. The newspaper says a city Internal Audit Office report in January found multiple procurement violations and little documentation from panel members since bidding began in September.
- CHURCH PASTOR-SEX CRIMES ARREST
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A 59-year-old church pastor and former elementary school teacher from Las Vegas has been arrested in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on a warrant accusing him of sex crimes involving children. The Albuquerque Journal reports that Reynaldo Crespin was arrested Saturday and jailed pending an extradition hearing and his transfer in custody to Nevada. Court records in Las Vegas show that Crespin was named in a warrant issued Feb. 10 on multiple charges including sexual assault against children under ages 16 and 14. Reports in Las Vegas identify Crespin as a second-grade teacher from 2016 until this month and a pastor at New Horizon Christian Church.
- AP-NM-ALBUQUERQUE POLICE STAFFING
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police officers in Albuquerque are shifting to a 12-hour schedule to help increase staffing levels on patrol. Police Chief Harold Medina tells Albuquerque TV station KRQE that the vast majority of officers support the 12-hour shift. As of December, the Albuquerque Police Department had 926 officers. The department has had a budgeted goal of 1,140 sworn-in officers since Mayor Tim Keller took office in 2016 when there were 833 officers. The department has 1,000 police officers last year. Keller made it a campaign promise that he would try and hire 100 officers every year of his term.
- EASTERN NEW MEXICO UNIVERSITY-PRESIDENT
PORTALES, N.M. (AP) — The president of Eastern New Mexico University has announced plans to retire this summer. Patrice Caldwell has spent more than four decades working for the university. She started as a faculty member, and served in various department leadership roles before becoming president. Caldwell told the Board of Regents on Friday that she will retire on July 1. The board says it already has started a nationwide search for her replacement. Nearly 5,000 students were enrolled at the university's main campus in Portales last fall. The university also has campuses in Ruidoso and Roswell.
- NEW MEXICO-FREE COLLEGE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is expected to expand one of the country's most generous free college programs for nearly all adults. The state Legislature has planned $75 million to fund the program for a year in a bill expected to be signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The "Opportunity Scholarship" is intended to help adults return to college if they couldn't finish in the past. If the funding is expended beyond a year, the program's broad eligibility would make it possible for people to move to New Mexico, establish residency, and get a free degree. The program covers fees and allows students to use federal grants for living expenses.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation says it will maintain a mask mandate even as the last of the states around it dropped the requirement. The tribe implemented a mask mandate early on in the pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Residents and visitors on the reservation that extends into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona are required to wear masks in public. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made a surprise announcement Thursday to lift the state's mask mandate. Utah's requirement for most public settings was short-lived. Arizona never had a statewide mask mandate.