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UPDATED: Fired Socorro Worker Arrested at Walmart

SOCORRO — A Socorro man who was fired from the city of Socorro parks department a year ago over allegations that he had stolen copper wire from a New Mexico Tech property yard while on the job, has been accused of stealing electronic equipment from Walmart.

Billy Silva, 37, of Socorro, was arrested at Walmart by officers of the Socorro Police Department on Feb. 7. He is charged with one fourth-degree felony count of embezzlement, one fourth-degree count of conspiring to commit a third- or fourth-degree felony, and one fourth-degree felony count of tampering with evidence.

According to the criminal complaint, Officer Dennis Sedillo was dispatched to Walmart at about noon Feb. 7 to meet with a store investigator out of Las Cruces. The investigator, David Quintana, told Sedillo that Silva had been caught on camera removing a T-Mobile cell phone from its packaging while working the night shift on Jan. 30, then replacing the empty packaging where he had found it.

The store’s security footage from that evening also appeared to show Silva walk through the store’s garden center and throw a white box containing a home entertainment center over the fence. The tape showed the box was later retrieved by someone driving a white car.

The criminal complaint describes an interview between Sedillo and Silva in which Silva allegedly admitted taking the cellphone, and also admitted taking not only the home theater system but a Sony amplifier, too.

According to the complaint, Silva confirmed throwing the items over the fence and told the officer he came back later to pick them up. He allegedly told Sedillo that the phone and amp were at his home, but that he didn’t know where the home theater system was.

The value of the items taken without authorization from the store comes to $1,085.

Based on Sedillo’s interview with Silva, a second man, James Vaughn, 19, of Socorro, was also arrested. Vaughn is also charged with one fourth-degree felony count of embezzlement, one fourth-degree count of conspiring to commit a third- or fourth-degree felony, and one fourth-degree felony count of tampering with evidence.

A print-out from Socorro Magistrate Court shows Silva waived a preliminary hearing and was released on his own recognizance on Feb. 15. His case has been bound over to be heard in District Court.

Vaughn was released on a $31,000 cash or surety bond on Feb. 7. He is scheduled to appear in Magistrate Court for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 29.

Charges of Copper Theft

Due to his arrest on Feb. 7, Silva is now facing prosecution for the charges brought against him last February, when he and his brother Tony Silva, 48, of Socorro, were accused of stealing about 200 pounds of copper wire from New Mexico Tech and selling it for scrap to Salome Recycling on McCutcheon Street.

The brothers were caught on film, in a city of Socorro vehicle, in a property yard on the Tech campus between noon and 1 p.m. on Feb. 8, 2011.

The two men were each charged with one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property, one petty misdemeanor count of tampering with evidence, and one petty misdemeanor count of larceny less than $250.

Tony Silva signed a plea and disposition agreement in Magistrate Court, agreeing to plead guilty to the larceny charge, and the other two charges against him were dismissed. He was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 180 days of unsupervised probation, and ordered to stay off the Tech campus for the period of his probation.

Billy Silva applied for and was accepted into the county’s pre-prosecution diversion program in November 2011. The program is designed for first time offenders of certain types of crime. Per state statute, it’s intended “to remove those persons from the criminal justice system who are most amenable to rehabilitation and least likely to commit future offenses, to provide those persons with services designed to assist them in avoiding future criminal activity, (and) to conserve community and criminal justice resources.”

Billy Silva’s pre-prosecution diversion period was to have been six months. At the time of his arrest this February, he had not completed the supervised six month period, so, per the terms of the program, he is required to face trial for the charges.

A non-jury trial on the copper theft charges is scheduled in Magistrate Court for March 28.


 

4:49pm 6/6/11 — Copper Thief To Do Community Service

By Suzanne Barteau/El Defensor Chieftain

SOCORRO — A former Socorro city employee found guilty of stealing copper and aluminum wire from New Mexico Tech in February has been sentenced to 40 hours of community service.

Tony Silva, 48, was charged in February with one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property, one petty misdemeanor count of tampering with evidence, and one petty misdemeanor count of larceny less than $250.

Silva signed a plea and disposition agreement in Magistrate Court on May 25, agreeing to plead guilty to the larceny charge. Per the terms of the agreement, the other two charges against him were dismissed.

Magistrate Jim Naranjo sentenced Silva to 40 hours of community service and 180 days of unsupervised probation, and ordered him to stay off the Tech campus for the period of his probation. Silva was also ordered to pay court costs of $73, and to make restitution to Salome Recycling in the amount of $230.

In addition, Silva received 180 days of jail time, suspended, and a $500 fine, suspended, meaning he does not have to pay the fine or serve the time in jail unless he violates the terms of the plea and disposition agreement.

“I feel like we reached a solution that benefits everybody, and I hope that everybody is able to move forward from here,” said Lauren Reed of Deschamps and Kortemeier Law Offices, who represented Silva in court.

Tony Silva and his brother, Billy Silva, 37, were caught on film, in a city of Socorro vehicle, in a property yard on the Tech campus between noon and 1 p.m. on Feb. 8.

According to the “Statement of Probable Cause” filed in Magistrate Court on Feb. 14, the two men admitted to taking wire from the property yard on Feb. 8 and selling it at Salome Scrap Metal Recycling on McCutcheon Avenue later the same day.

The New Mexico Tech campus police subsequently recovered 179 pounds of copper wire and 178 pounds of aluminum wire from Salome Recycling.

The Silva brothers were fired from their city parks department jobs on Monday, March 28, after closed hearings before the city’s Personnel Board.

City Clerk Pat Salome said he had no comment on the court’s decision.

“We just try to make the employees stay within the guidelines of the personnel rules, because that’s what the public expects,” Salome said in a telephone interview on June 2. “We’re not the court system.”

Billy Silva is scheduled to appear in Magistrate Court on July 7.

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March 31, 2011 — Socorro Fires Two Workers Accused of Stealing Copper

Two Socorro parks department employees accused of stealing copper wire from New Mexico Tech in February were fired by the City Council Monday night in a unanimous vote, El Defensor Chieftain reported this week.

Tony Silva, 48, and Billy Silva, 37, were identified as the two men with a city vehicle who were photographed by a motion sensor camera on the Tech campus taking copper wire on Feb. 8, El Defensor Chieftain said.

The camera was installed after the university’s facilities management department noticed in January that copper cable was missing, the paper reported.

The two were placed on paid administrative leave pending hearings before the city’s Personnel Board, and those hearings were held on March 16 and March 22, closed to the public at the employees’ request, El Defensor Chieftain said.

Councilors on Monday voted unanimously to accept the Personnel Board’s recommendations, the paper reported.

The two are scheduled for an appearance in Magistrate Court on April 7.

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6:40p.m. 2/16/11 — Two Socorro City Employees Accused of Stealing Copper Wire

Two Socorro city employees are facing misdemeanor counts of larceny, receiving stolen property and tampering with evidence for allegedly stealing copper wire from New Mexico Tech last week, El Defensor Chieftain reported.

The newspaper said Tony Silva, 48, and Billy Silva, 37, were charged in a criminal complaint filed Monday in Magistrate Court. The men, employees of the city’s parks department, are accused of stealing the copper wire from an outdoor property yard at New Mexico Tech shortly after noon on Feb. 8.

A camera at the yard recorded still photos at short intervals of the Silvas at the yard with a city truck, according to El Defensor Chieftain. Thom Guengerich, Tech’s public information officer, told the newspaper he believed the photos showed them loading about 200 pounds of copper cable into the truck.

El Defensor Chieftain reported that according to the criminal complaint, the Silvas sold a quantity of copper wire to a recycling company in Socorro for $100 the afternoon of Feb. 8. The complaint also says that the men are alleged to have said they needed money for hospital bills and other expenses.

Assistant District Attorney Bruce Burwell said the charges are misdemeanors because the dollar amount involved is less than $500, so the matter will likely be resolved in Magistrate Court, according to the newspaper.

Mayor Ravi Bhasker said Monday that the Silvas are on paid administrative leave. He also told the newspaper the charges are regarded as serious and if the men are found guilty of violations of the city’s personnel manual, they face possible suspension or termination.

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