COUNTY, LAS CRUCES POLICE CLARIFY STATUS OF TREASURER’S OFFICE INVESTIGATION

COUNTY, LAS CRUCES POLICE CLARIFY STATUS OF TREASURER’S OFFICE INVESTIGATION

A story about the ongoing investigation into the theft of $7,000 from the Doña Ana County Treasurer’s office, published in the Dec. 2 edition of the Las Cruces Sun-News, quoted Las Cruces Police Department spokesman Sgt. Joel Cano as saying, “Everything that [Det. Raul Ortiz] learned has been turned over to county officials. We turned over the entire case.”
Cano said Thursday that although the county manager, county treasurer and county attorney had been briefed about the case, the LCPD continues to be the agency in charge of the investigation and, in that capacity, has not “turned over the case” to the county. Further, he said, no documents relevant to the investigation would ever be turned over unless they were part of an impending court case, at which time they would be referred to the office of the District Attorney. Since there is no one charged with a crime and no evidence as yet that would substantiate charges, he said, the case remains open.
Cano also was quoted in the Sun-News story, in response to a question about whether all employees in the Treasurer’s Office had passed polygraph tests, as saying: “We can’t answer that. We won’t answer that. That gets into the case. [County Manager] Fernando Macias can answer that, and so can [County Treasurer] David Gutierrez.”
Cano said he mis-spoke. He said the same principles of confidentiality that apply to a police investigation apply to employers whose employees are potential suspects. Cano said he should not have discussed the details of the investigation or any of the individuals involved with the press.
Macias said he appreciated Cano’s clarifications, and he praised the LCPD for its diligence in the investigation.
“I want to make it clear that we are not hiding anything,” Macias said. “We have been briefed about the status of the case, and what we know is what we’ve said all along: Neither our internal investigation nor the LCPD’s investigation has turned up any evidence that would lead to an arrest. It must be made clear to the public that the county has not been presented with sufficient evidence to sustain a criminal charge or to take administrative action against any employee. Be that as it may, we have faith in the quality of this investigation, and neither the County nor the LCPD intends to close this case. If we find out who stole that money, no matter who it is, we will prosecute that person or persons to the fullest extent of the law.”