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Ex-Cop Clarifies Block Investigated

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SANTA FE — A former detective fighting his dismissal from the Santa Fe Police Department on Wednesday provided more details on what he maintains was an FBI drug investigation of City Manager Robert Romero, saying that an informant who was later murdered pointed to Romero as a cocaine user.

And he reiterated that it was Jerome Block Jr. of the state Public Regulation Commission — not U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján — who was also under investigation.

Ex-detective James Vigil — who was fired in June for a DWI conviction and who has been fighting to get his job back — told reporters at his attorney’s law office that he once received information through confidential informants that Romero and Block had purchased cocaine and that he shared the information with the FBI as part of an undercover investigation.

Romero on Wednesday denied all allegations made by the former officer. When asked if he was friends with Block, Romero said, “I know of him. This is a small community. He’s never been in my circle of friends.”

When asked about drug use, Romero said, “We’ve all made youthful mistakes we regret. I experimented with drugs decades ago. I do not use cocaine.”

Neither Block, who recently admitted he is addicted to prescription pills, nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

Mayor David Coss issued a statement Wednesday blasting Vigil and the Santa Fe police union for supporting him. “I am appalled that the Santa Fe Police Officers Association’s leadership has sunk to a new level,” Coss said. “Rather than argue the merits of ex-detective Vigil’s termination for a drunken driving conviction, they are willing to make baseless remarks …”

The mayor said union leaders and David Foster, attorney for both Vigil and the union, “should be ashamed of themselves for attempting to create an environment where inflammatory allegations rule and real evidence and facts are irrelevant.”

Romero also shot back at the union Wednesday, saying, “I won’t be bullied by these unprincipled individuals.”

Vigil said at his Wednesday news conference that cocaine use and Romero’s name were first linked by a confidential informant named Frank Segura.

“Frankie told us about the city manager and other individuals” who were involved with cocaine, Vigil said.

But Segura was murdered in July 2008 and his body found in Santa Fe National Forrest, in an unrelated case.

Vigil’s allegations of an FBI probe targeting Romero became public Tuesday, during an arbitration hearing on his firing. Vigil testified about the purported FBI probe, and Deputy Police Chief Gillian Alessio testified that Vigil once told her that Romero and Congressman Luján were the targets.

But Vigil says he never mentioned Luján and instead told Alessio that Block was under investigation.

Luján on Tuesday had called the idea that he was under investigation outrageous and slanderous. On Wednesday, he said that, given what Vigil has told reporters, “I don’t know what else I need to do to clear my name.”
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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