Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m.

Aug 13, 2019

Former longtime White Mountain Apache tribal chairman dies
WHITERIVER, Ariz. (AP) — A former longtime chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe has died at age 89.
Tribal officials say Ronnie Lupe died Monday.
Lupe served as the tribe's chairman for 36 years before leaving office in May 2018 after deciding not to seek a 10th term.
Prior to his long tenure as chairman, Lupe served in the U.S. Marine Corps and as a member of White Mountain Apache Tribal Council.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that Lupe "was a man of great compassion" and "a strong leader who did not shy away from challenging the federal government on many issues, but he did so in a respectful and tactful way."
Funeral services are pending.
A list of Lupe's survivors wasn't immediately available Monday night.


New Mexico governor names new education secretary
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has named a regional official with a national nonprofit group as the new leader of the state's public education department.
Ryan Stewart was introduced Monday during a news conference in Santa Fe.
Based in Philadelphia, Stewart is the executive director of the Partners in School Innovation mid-Atlantic region. The group focuses on increasing educational opportunities for low-income students of color.
He was previously head of the Philadelphia school district's improvement and innovation office.
The governor said Monday she has very expectations for the education department and that Stewart has energy and vision.
Stewart fills a vacancy created when Lujan Grisham abruptly fired the previous secretary, Karen Trujillo. The shake-up came as the administration deals with court-ordered mandates and a push to roll out extended learning times for students.


2 education groups urge caution on New Mexico tests revamp
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two New Mexico education advocacy groups are urging caution as state officials work to revamp a student assessment test.
NewMexicoKidsCAN and Teach Plus said last week they hope state education officials maintain rigorous standards for stability.
Last month, the state released results that showed around 80% of New Mexico students weren't proficient in math and 67% weren't proficient in reading. The results were from a "transition test" administered in the spring.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham scrapped a previous test amid pressure from teachers unions. A panel is helping create a new test despite criticism from some Republicans.
Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki told The Associated Press it was "incredibly outrageous" to ask if the administration was seeking to make the test easier to raise proficiency rates.


New Mexico confirms first human West Nile case
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials have confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in the state.
The Health Department said Monday a 42-year-old woman from Dona Ana County contracted the mosquito-borne virus and is recovering after being hospitalized.
New Mexico has had cases of West Nile every year since the virus migrated to the state in 2003.
There were seven confirmed cases in New Mexico in 2018, including one fatal case. In 2017, there were 33 cases, with one reported death.
Officials say mosquito populations tend to rise following increased precipitation during the monsoon season.
Symptoms can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. Officials say people with West Nile fever typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for weeks to months.


FBI seek sex abuse suspect awaiting trial in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal authorities are searching for a defendant in a sexual abuse case who went missing from a halfway house in Albuquerque.
FBI officials said Monday that Jan Jay Moolenijzer was under strict pre-trial release conditions when he left the halfway house without permission on Aug. 5.
The 68-year-old's last known location was Tucson, Arizona.
Moolenijzer was arrested nearly a year ago in Albuquerque. He was indicted in March on four counts of aggravated sexual abuse stemming from incidents in 2001 and 2002 on tribal land in Cibola County.
According to the indictment, Moolenijzer, who is not Native American, is accused of inappropriately touching a boy under the age of 12.
The victim is a member of a tribe.
A federal warrant has been issued for Moolenijzer's arrest.


The Latest: 1 of Epstein's guards not a corrections officer
NEW YORK (AP) — A person familiar with operations at the federal jail where Jeffrey Epstein killed himself says one of the two people guarding him the night he died wasn't a correctional officer.
The person wasn't authorized to disclose information about the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The person said Epstein hanged himself with a bedsheet, days after being taken off a suicide watch.
Federal prisons facing shortages of fully trained guards have resorted to having other types of support staff fill in for correctional officers, including clerical workers and teachers.
Jail policy called for guards to check Epstein every 30 minutes, but investigators have learned those checks weren't done for several hours in the hours before he was discovered Saturday.
That's according to a second person who was not authorized to discuss the matter and also spoke on condition of anonymity.
— By Michael R. Sisak and Michael Balsamo.


New Mexico man pleads guilty in Delaware swatting case
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A New Mexico man has pleaded guilty to making interstate bomb threats against an elementary school and a Walmart in southern Delaware.
Twenty-nine-year-old Stephen Scott Landes of Roswell, New Mexico, entered the plead Monday in federal court in Wilmington. He faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing in November.
Prosecutors say Landes falsely reported in May 2018 that he had planted bombs at the Georgetown school and the Walmart while claiming to be a Georgetown resident.
Such schemes, which cause police and SWAT teams to respond to fake emergencies, are known as "swatting."
Authorities say the Delaware incident stemmed from an online feud between Landes and a Georgetown man, who himself is accused of falsely reporting shootings and other emergencies at locations in five states.


FCC awards $2.5M to bring broadband to San Juan County
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Rural and underserved communities in northern New Mexico will have access to internet service thanks to federal dollars.
The Federal Communications Commission announced Monday that it has approved nearly $2.6 million to bring broadband to more than 500 homes and businesses in San Juan County.
Amarillo, Texas-based Plains Internet will use the funding over the next decade to establish high-speed internet service for hundreds of residents.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement that the funding is another step toward closing the digital divide.
To date, the FCC has earmarked more than $21 million for New Mexico to bring broadband to more than 8,500 households and businesses.
Rural and tribal areas have been the focus of the funding.