A former Chaves County Sheriff’s deputy was found guilty by a judge this week of five felony charges for receiving overtime payments for hours he didn’t work.
James Johnson, 62, could face up to 7½ years in prison at a sentencing hearing scheduled May 2, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office said in a written statement issued Wednesday.
At a bench trial on Tuesday, 5th Judicial District Court Judge Jane Shuler-Gray found Johnson guilty of five counts of receiving public money for services not rendered.
Johnson’s attorney, Dick Blenden, did not immediately respond Wednesday to voice messages seeking comment.
Prosecutors alleged that Johnson received the payments from October to December 2020, attorney general prosecutors wrote in a criminal information filed Nov. 21, 2021, in District Court in Roswell.
“Public officials should be aware that no one is above the law,” Attorney General Raúl Torrez said in the statement.
A 2021 internal affairs investigation found discrepancies between Johnson’s timesheets and a global positioning system in his patrol car, the statement said.
“A GPS unit in Johnson’s patrol vehicle contradicted the hours Johnson reported on his timesheet and showed that on at least one occasion, Johnson took an unauthorized trip to Las Cruces in his county-issued patrol vehicle,” the statement said.
Johnson’s actions unnecessarily prolonged the time that inmates spent in holding cells waiting for court-ordered transportation, sometimes by hours, it said.