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Lawsuit settled against former State Police chief

Former New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

A lawsuit alleging that the former New Mexico State Police chief engaged in “blatant, ongoing and systematic discrimination” during his time at the helm – including at one time “mooning” his employees – was settled in December after two days of negotiation.

Diane Garrity, a lawyer for the three law enforcement officials who filed the suit, said she could confirm there was a settlement in the case but a confidentiality clause barred her from discussing how much money was doled out.

“There was a settlement, but they have us bound and gagged in terms of state money,” Garrity said. “I can’t tell you the amount.”

She said her clients were pleased with the terms of the settlement.

In response to questions about whether any changes are expected at State Police in the wake of the lawsuit, a NMSP spokesman said “all terms of the settlement are confidential and the lawsuit was resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.”

State Police Sgt. Monica Martinez-Jones, retired Lt. Julia Armendariz and retired Deputy Chief Michael Ryan Suggs filed the lawsuit against former Chief Pete Kassetas and the New Mexico Department of Public Safety in 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe in June.

They alleged discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation and retaliation for whistleblowing activities.

According to the lawsuit, Kassetas described his employees as “dumb (expletive) bitches” and once sent an image of a man’s testicles blocking out the sun to a deputy cabinet secretary in the Department of Public Safety.

The lawsuit also alleged “Kassetas’ behavior has gone unchecked by DPS, because the office of Governor Susana Martinez has protected Kassetas from adverse employment action, making him untouchable and above the law he is commissioned to enforce.”

At the time the suit was filed, a spokesman for the governor said the allegations were ridiculous and “completely removed from the truth.”

Mark Jarmie, Kassetas’ attorney, said he could not comment on the settlement.

Paula Maynes, the attorney representing the Department of Public Safety, also said she could not comment. She did not know when the terms of the settlement will be made public.

Kassetas retired at the end of December, as Martinez’s term in office came to a close. He had served as police chief since August 2013.

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