CLERK’S OFFICE EMPLOYEE FACES FELONY CHARGE FOR SHREDDING DOCUMENTS

CLERK’S OFFICE EMPLOYEE FACES FELONY CHARGE FOR SHREDDING DOCUMENTS

A temporary employee assigned to the Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office Bureau of Elections has been charged with a fourth-degree felony count of tampering with public documents.

James Dwaine Masters, 27, whose last day of county employment was scheduled to have been Friday, Jan. 2, 2004, is accused of shredding documents containing contact information about poll workers for the 2004 Primary Election. Preliminary estimates indicate that more than 70 percent of the poll-worker database may have been destroyed.

The information had not been transferred to an electronic database, meaning all that was lost will have to be re-compiled by Bureau of Elections staff.

County Clerk Ruben Ceballos hired Masters as an elections specialist last summer, and Masters also served informally under Ceballos as the office’s public information officer until Ceballos was convicted of multiple felony counts last November. Masters was kept on board on a temporary basis to assist with compiling poll-worker data.

Masters is alleged to have begun shredding the documents during the workday on Tuesday. Interim Chief Deputy Clerk Mari Langford-Pavão and Interim Elections Administrator Andy Perez were notified of what was going on by other employees. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene, and an investigation was launched. Investigators removed several bags of shredded paper from the scene as part of the investigation.

Masters was booked into the Doña Ana County Detention Center by Sheriff’s investigators late Tuesday night, Dec. 30. He was released Wednesday morning on a $10,000 surety bond.

For more information, call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 647-7229. Residents calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7229.