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7:30am — Tucumcari Woman Gets Apology for Arrest

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Restaurant operator handcuffed, hauled off over $136 in fines she tried to pay.

Hope L. Ortiz, operator of Lena's Home Cooking on Main Street in Tucumcari, got a formal apology from the Tucumcari City Commission over her arrest last Thursday at her place of business over $136 in unpaid fines, the Quay County Sun reported.

"We do realize there was a mistake made," said Tucumcari Mayor Pro Tem James Witcher after he and three other city commissioners gave Ortiz a public apology, the Sun reported.

"It was embarrassing," said Ortiz, who said she had been to City Hall three times over the past two months to pay fines for citations concerning a border collie she owned.  "I asked them to take me out the back (door)."

Ortiz said each time she tried to pay the fines, clerks at City Hall were unable to find her name in the city's computer system, the Sun reported.

It appears her name was listed as L. Hope Ortiz, instead of Hope L. Ortiz, so clerks couldn't find her records, Ortiz told the Sun.

Ortiz said she had received three citations more than two months ago from the city's animal control officer because of her border collie, which eventually was euthanized, the Sun reported.

She appealed the citations, but when she lost the appeal tried to pay the fines, the paper said.

New Tucumcari Police Chief Roger Hatcher said when fines are not paid, a bench warrant is routinely issued by the courts.

"Once it's in the courts, it's out of our hands," Hatcher told the Sun.  "The officers did what they were supposed to."

Ortiz still owes $25 in Municipal Court fees, to cover the cost of issuing the warrants, the Sun reported.

"I don't think I should have to pay the $25," Ortiz said. "It's not my fault that they couldn't find my name."

City commissioners agreed she shouldn't have to pay, but that will be up to Municipal Court Judge Joe Dominguez, before whom Ortiz is scheduled to appear on Tuesday, the Sun reported. 

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