ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — State Department of Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel has ordered an administrative investigation into whether then-Los Lunas prison warden Anthony Romero tried to obstruct an FBI investigation into the alleged rape of an inmate by a high-ranking guard at the facility in 2011.
Marcantel announced the probe in a prepared statement Wednesday afternoon, a day after attorney Matthew Coyte filed a lawsuit on behalf of former inmate Kenneth Morgan in state District Court in Valencia County.
The lawsuit names as defendants Kenneth Carrejo, a former captain at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility, and Romero.
It alleges excessive force, along with violations of due process and equal protection, and that Morgan’s treatment rose to the level of cruel and unusual punishment.
The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and attorneys’ fees and costs.
Carrejo has retired from the Corrections Department, although a spokeswoman could not say when. Romero is now deputy director of the department’s Adult Prisons Division.
Neither man could be reached for comment Wednesday.
According to the lawsuit, Carrejo raped Morgan several times in 2011, including at least twice while Morgan was handcuffed. An FBI agent agreed to come into the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility undercover to get DNA evidence that Morgan had collected.
But, according to the lawsuit, a Corrections Department employee got wind of the undercover operation and told Romero about it. Romero then called State Police, which sent Carrejo’s brother – who is an officer with the department – to question Morgan.
“In my current review of available details associated with the criminal investigation, no current information exists to suggest that then Warden Anthony Romero attempted to obstruct the criminal inquiry in any manner,” Marcantel said in his statement. “However, based on the serious nature of the allegations, to assure appropriate keeping of the safety and security of the inmates and staff entrusted to our supervision, I have ordered a professional standards investigation to examine the allegations against Mr. Romero.”
Romero has been reassigned, although a spokeswoman could not say to where.
He has not been placed on leave.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal