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Kansas bank CEO arrested in Las Cruces

LAS CRUCES – The CEO of the Kansas-based Sunflower Financial Inc. was arrested last month in Las Cruces, court records show.

Mollie Hale Carter, 54, of Fairway, Kansas, was arrested Jan. 27 and charged with driving on a suspended license, a misdemeanor, and texting while driving, a petty misdemeanor, according to a criminal complaint filed in Doña Ana County Magistrate Court.

Sunflower announced last year plans to merge with the Texas-based Strategic Growth Bancorp, which operates six First National Rio Grande branches in Las Cruces and Albuquerque. Strategic also operates First National Santa Fe and First National Denver in Colorado.

According to the police affidavit, Carter was driving a silver Nissan on U.S. 70 in Las Cruces around 1 p.m. when she was allegedly seen texting by the arresting officer.

“The vehicle was traveling next to me and the driver was texting and looking down,” the officer wrote in the affidavit.

After pulling over the Nissan, the officer identified the driver as Carter and learned that her driver’s license had been suspended.

According to the affidavit, Carter told the officer that she had a previous DWI arrest out of Kansas and had been ordered to have an interlock in her vehicle.

The Salina Post reported that Carter had been arrested in April 2016 on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and failure to signal.

At time of her arrest in Las Cruces, Carter told the officer that she was traveling to El Paso for business. She was placed under arrest without incident.

She was booked into the Doña Ana County Detention Center and was released Jan. 29 after posting a $2,000 secured bond, jail records show. In her booking report, Carter’s occupation is listed as “CEO, Sunflower Bank.”

Her arraignment has been scheduled for Feb. 20.

A spokeswoman for Sunflower declined to comment on Carter’s arrest on Monday. “It’s our policy not to discuss the personal matters of our employees,” spokeswoman Christy Klein said.

Klein said Sunflower did not currently operate any banks in New Mexico. But she said Strategic operated 14 locations in New Mexico, including three in Las Cruces.

The merger of the companies, announced in July 2016, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017, the Albuquerque Business Journal reported in July.

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©2017 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)

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