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Former Tucumcari fire chief pleads no contest to 5 charges

TUCUMCARI, N.M. — A former fire chief has been convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting a city employee and stealing city money, prosecutors said.

Former Tucumcari Fire Chief Shane Warner pleaded no contest Tuesday to charges that included assault with intent to commit a violent felony, attempt to commit extortion and misdemeanor embezzlement, The Eastern New Mexico News reported .

Prosecutors dropped charges of fraud, distribution of a controlled substance and tampering with evidence in exchange for the plea. Prosecutors are expected to recommend a suspended sentence and five years of supervised probation. They also plan to seek $2,000 in restitution.

A sentencing hearing has not been scheduled.

The former fire chief gave a female ambulance worker an anti-nausea drug that also acts as a sedative, and he injected her with another substance in March 2016, District Attorney Tim Rose said.

Warner, 42, and the victim were inside the former Tucumcari Police Department building for about three hours before the woman was taken to her parents’ home, Rose said. The victim’s mother told authorities that her daughter was incoherent. The victim reported that she had no memory for hours after she was injected.

She reported “feeling strange in her private area,” Rose said. A toxicology test found traces of the anti-nausea drug and another drug that causes amnesia-type symptoms.

Investigators also found that Warner was in possession of money from a city petty-cash fund.

Warner’s attorney, Daniel Lindsey, declined to comment after the court hearing.

Warner was hired as fire chief in January 2015. The city fired him in March 2017.

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Information from: The Eastern New Mexico News, http://www.easternnewmexiconews.com

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