- CHILE WARS
LEMITAR, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Chile Association wants local chili pepper farmers to become state-certified amid more competition from foreign growers. Association president Glen Duggins told KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this week farmers are seeing more foreign imports from as far as China or India. He says some of the imported chili peppers are sold under the New Mexico name. Meanwhile, Duggins says state farmers are moving to other more profitable crops. State officials are pressuring local farmers to get their peppers the "Certified New Mexico Chile" label by the New Mexico Chile Association. There are only five large farms that are certified out of about 20 across New Mexico.
PHOENIX (AP) — A Scottsdale man and his mother have been indicted for alleged wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Federal prosecutors say 52-year-old Frank Capri and 68-year-old Debbie Corvo of Cave Creek are accused of orchestrating the collapse of two county music branded restaurant chains in Arizona and across the country. Court documents show Capri was arrested Wednesday and later arraigned in U.S. District Court in Phoenix. He entered a plea of not guilty. According to the Arizona Republic, Capri's company built 20 Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill restaurants beginning in 2009. The newspaper says 19 restaurants closed in about 18 months, and Capri also was behind the financial ruin of 19 Rascal Flatts restaurant projects.
- EXOTIC ANIMALS-FILMING
BELEN, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico couple is facing charges over accusations they illegally imported exotic animals, including a mountain lion and kangaroo, for film productions. Kip and Chelsey Lewis are facing multiple charges of unlawful importation of a nondomestic live animal after New Mexico Department of Game and Fish agents raided their home in December 2018. According to court documents, Chelsey Lewis altered documents for the animals, and Kip Lewis lied about the locations of the animals. Agents also found in the couple's possession a capuchin monkey, a coyote, a prairie dog, a skunk, an American alligator, and a raccoon. Their attorney, Jason Alarid, did not immediately return a message.
- SACRED LAKE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Fifty years after President Richard Nixon returned a sacred lake and breathtaking mountain wilderness to Native American control, New Mexico state lawmakers are seeking to preserve the political backstory. Indigenous leaders say the return of Blue Lake to the people of Taos Pueblo in 1970 represented a significant milestone in the 20th century Indian rights movement. Newly proposed state legislation would set aside funds to preserve photos and documents from the struggle by Taos Pueblo leaders to reclaim ancestral lands. It would also fund a documentary film and help create educational programs.
- ONLINE SCAM-BERNALILLO COUNTY
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — County officials in New Mexico have changed some of their internal procedures after acknowledging that Bernalillo County lost about $447,000 as a result of an online scam. The Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday that scammers targeted one of the 1,472 registered vendors listed on the county website's transparency portal. Officials say the county expects to maintain transparency by keeping contracts visible, but a list of vendor names has been removed from the site. Officials say the procedural changes require vendors to contact the county directly for changes to their profiles. Officials say the Risk Management Department is currently working with the county's insurance carrier to recoup the loss.
- ZUNI-TEACHER HOUSING
ZUNI PUEBLO, N.M. (AP) — Housing units designed for teachers to alleviate a teacher shortage on a Native American pueblo in western New Mexico are posing hazards and are in dire need of repairs. The Gallup Independent reports that teacher housing on Zuni Pueblo have poor foundations, lack of erosion control mechanisms, and need updated pipes. The Zuni Public School District has a total of 86 homes for teachers in its inventory. These homes include 36 houses built north of Zuni High School in 2002 by an Albuquerque company that installed overhead plumbing with little to no insulation. The structures were built without taking into consideration Zuni Pueblo's particular needs and location.
- FAKE DEPUTY-PROBE
ARTESIA, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a person posing as a deputy in southeastern New Mexico scammed a resident out of hundreds of dollars. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the Eddy County Sheriff's Office is warning residents and urging them to contact authorities if they get suspicious. According to detectives, a victim reported losing hundreds of dollars to a person posing as an Eddy County Sheriff's Deputy on Jan. 30. Deputies say the impostor used the name of a deputy employed by the office while concealing their identity.
- ELECTRIC VEHICLES-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico would provide an income tax credit of up to $5,000 to offset the purchase of new plug-in electric vehicles as part of a proposal that cleared is first legislative hurdle on Monday. A state Senate panel endorsed a bill to provide up to $10 million in annual tax credits toward electric vehicle purchases, and smaller tax breaks on home car-charging stations. The full state tax credit would be available to middle- and low-income residents. Individuals earning more than $50,000 annually would qualify for a smaller $2,500 credit. The bill would increase electric vehicle registration fees to offset erosion of state tax income on gasoline sales.