ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Woman linked to theft of more than 200 rifles and other weapons
The granddaughter of a New Mexico political icon is being held on federal charges in connection with the theft of more than 200 rifles and other weapons from a Torrance County storage facility.
Sheryl Anderson, whose grandfather was the late U.S. Sen. Clinton P. Anderson, is charged with six felony counts related to the January 2009 theft from the facility owned by her brother, Stuart Anderson, a licensed firearms dealer.
A great deal of mystery surrounds the case, because federal and local law enforcement officials won’t comment except to say the investigation is continuing.
Officials won’t say how many weapons have been recovered or how many are still missing. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in El Paso after federal prosecutors in Albuquerque recused themselves.
Anderson is not accused of stealing the weapons but is charged with conspiring to transport the guns to a storage shed in El Paso, possessing several weapons taken in the burglary and interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle.
She also is charged with conspiracy and at the time she allegedly was involved in transporting the weapons was facing felony drug possession charges in Arkansas.
Robert Gorence — Anderson’s fourth attorney in six months — argued during a recent hearing for her release from a federal detention center in downtown Albuquerque where she is being held pending trial.
Gorence confirmed after the hearing last Friday that Anderson is the granddaughter of the late senator, a Democrat who represented New Mexico in the U.S. Senate from 1949 until 1973. Clinton P. Anderson died in 1975 and was a key figure in the development of atomic energy and the nation’s space program. Before the Senate, he served in the U.S. House and as secretary of agriculture.
Gorence argued that Sheryl Anderson has breast cancer and is having difficulty with her medical treatment while incarcerated.
“She never had an MRI,” Gorence said in court. “She can’t take the drugs prescribed for her cancer and has daily medical issues.
“She’s not charged with stealing the weapons,” Gorence told U.S. Magistrate Judge Don Svet arguing, arguing for electronic monitoring.
“She’s not charged with a crime of violence,” he said.
John Johnston, an assistant U.S. attorney from El Paso, argued against her release and said Anderson’s criminal history should be considered.
“Other factors support detention in this case,” Johnston said, citing Anderson prior criminal history, including the Arkansas drug charge and previous arrests in Albuquerque.
“If her medical needs can’t be addressed in custody, then we can discuss other arrangements,” Johnston said.
Svet asked Johnston and Gorence to informally work on addressing Anderson’s medical needs before he decides whether she should be released.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque didn’t give a reason for stepping out of the case.