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Rozanna M. Martinez '95-now
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Noon Stakeout Takes a Bizarre Twist
By Rozanna M. Martinez
Journal Staff Writer
Was Sandoval County Sheriff John Paul Trujillo conducting surveillance in a drug operation or was he just caught with his pants down?
Trujillo says he was at the New Mexico Park & Ride parking lot in Bernalillo about noon on Monday in response to a tip regarding illegal drug activity.
And he contends an incident report by a Bernalillo police officer contains details that are "false allegations."
Two Bernalillo police officers say they spotted Trujillo's vehicle parked in the lot with the engine running and a sun shade covering most of the windshield.
Park & Ride Incident Report (PDF)
Officer Mark Aragon said in his report that he approached the dark blue Ford Expedition and the vehicle appeared to be shaking back and forth as if there was movement inside.
He said he observed Trujillo crawl from the back seat area into the front driver seat and saw the sheriff "maneuvering to put his pants on by way of buttoning and zipping."
According to the report, Aragon also observed a female crouching down, "obviously not wanting to be seen."
Trujillo told Aragon there was no problem and everything was fine.
Officer Eric Rubidoux also filed an incident report after checking out the vehicle along with Aragon. His report described the parked vehicle but did not describe any activity within.
Trujillo fired off a statement Wednesday, saying the officer's "false allegations" have "impacted my family, the sheriff's office and me personally and professionally."
Numerous calls made to Trujillo by the Journal on Wednesday were not returned.
In his statement, Trujillo said he was approached by two Bernalillo police officers, who recognized his vehicle, and had a brief conversation with them. He added that he continued his surveillance after the officers left the area.
According to Aragon's report, Trujillo drove away from the spot after assuring him that everything was all right.
A short while later, he returned to make contact with Aragon. He apologized for cutting the conversation short earlier and said he had been on the phone talking to others about a drug buy going on in Albuquerque.
Bernalillo Police Chief Fred Radosevich said he will review the reports and interview officers.
"If that's what the officers said they saw, that's what they saw," Radosevich said. "But, if (Trujillo) is saying there are false allegations I will look into it."
Radosevich said Wednesday there were no charges pending against Trujillo.
"In what I've been able to look at, there was no town ordinance that was violated," Radosevich said.
In his statement, Trujillo said the allegations were being made in "a last-ditch, malicious effort only for political purposes as the election is drawing near."
Trujillo, a Democrat, will run against Republican candidate Doug Wood in the November general election.
"For him to make the accusation that our campaign has anything to do with this just sounds absolutely ridiculous," Wood said. "The only people who know what happened are John Paul Trujillo and the person that he was with."
Sandoval County Commissioner David Bency said he asked county personnel director Tammie Gerrard if she was aware of the incident and told her she needed to investigate the matter.
"Although he is an elected official ... we are going to have to investigate just as if it was any other employee," he said.
"It doesn't look good, it doesn't look good at all," Bency said. "We have a responsibility to investigate further. It's just an allegation right now."
In his statement, Trujillo also said he asked the State Police to investigate.
Peter Olson, communications director for the Department of Public Safety, said no crime had been committed and State Police would not investigate.
Trujillo also said he had contacted the N.M. Association of Counties and offered to take a polygraph test.