Thursday News Roundup: Former Nuke Lab Scientist May Change Plea

Dec 5, 2013

AP Files Open Records Lawsuits Against NM Governor - Associated Press

The Associated Press has sued Gov. Susana Martinez's administration for refusing to release records about her work and travel schedules, cell phone calls and expenses of security officers.

The lawsuits were filed Thursday in state district court in Santa Fe against the governor, the Department of Finance and Administration and Department of Public Safety.

The governor's office issued a statement in which it stood by its record on open government.

One lawsuit contends that agencies violated the Inspection of Public Records Act by not providing actual overtime and expense reports and receipts for security officers. The administration released aggregate tallies, saying disclosure of documents such as procurement card statements could create a security risk.

The other lawsuit seeks release of complete work calendars and redacted numbers from cell phone logs.

NM Officer In Van Shooting On Leave- Associated Press

The New Mexico State Police officer who fired at a minivan full of children during a chaotic October traffic stop has been placed on administrative leave.

New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas told The Associated Press on Thursday that officer Elias Montoya has been placed on paid administrative leave pending a disciplinary investigation into the shooting outside the small tourist town of Taos.

Video from a dashboard camera on the police cruiser showed Montoya shooting at the minivan as motorist Oriana Farrell drove away from a chaotic traffic stop that included another officer bashing the van's window with his night stick. Farrell had been stopped by state police for speeding and fled twice after arguing with an officer.

She and her teen son were later arrested.

The video garnered national attention, and Kassetas said he would launch an internal investigation.

Man Shot By Police Didn't Have Gun- Associated Press

Albuquerque Police Chief Allen Banks says the man shot by police on Sunday didn't have a gun, but was holding an object that officers and witnesses mistook for one.

Banks told reporters Thursday that 34-year-old Shaine Sherrill pointed an unknown object at officers responding to a domestic disturbance before they shot him multiple times.

He called Sherrill's actions "overt and deliberate."

Banks says a knife and metal brake pad were found at the scene. He says officers have been unable to interview Sherrill, who remains in critical condition.

Officials say three officers were involved in the shooting, which was the fourth involving Albuquerque police in just over a month and the 33rd in three years.

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the department over the shootings and allegations of excessive force.


Lawyer: Former Nuke Lab Scientist May Change Plea - Associated Press

A defense lawyer says a former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear physicist who admitted communicating classified nuclear weapons data may try to withdraw his guilty plea.

Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni and his wife, Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, were accused of offering to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela through dealings with an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of the Venezuelan government.

The couple pleaded guilty in June in federal court in Albuquerque but a recent court filing by a federal public defender says Pedro Mascheroni may withdraw his plea.

The filing was made in connection with Mascheroni's pending request to obtain new court-appointed lawyers.

Mascheroni worked in Los Alamos' nuclear weapons design division from 1979 to 1988. His wife, a technical writer, worked there between 1981 and 2010.

Albuquerque Officers In Latest Shooting Named - Associated Press

Albuquerque police have released the names of three officers connected to an officer-involved shooting that left a suspect in critical condition.

Department spokeswoman Tasia Martinez said Wednesday the officers involved were Luke McPeek, Jim Edison and David Munoz.

Officials say Shaine Sherrill was shot Sunday by at least two Albuquerque police officers following a domestic violence call and later was rushed to a hospital where he was listed in critical condition.

Albuquerque acting Police Chief Allen Banks told reporters at the scene that an officer had announced that Sherrill had a gun. Yet, Banks added that it was unclear whether the 34-year-old Sherrill was indeed armed.

Sherrill's mother, Karri Sherrill, says hospital officials told her that her son is suffering from several gunshot wounds.

Federal Money OK'd For New Mexico Water Systems - Associated Press

The federal government is providing $360,000 in financing to improve water systems serving rural residents in Dona Ana and Otero counties.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced loans on Wednesday of $266,000 for the Timberon Water and Sanitation District and $94,000 for the Desert Aire Mutual Domestic Water and Sewer Works Association.

Timberon is a small community in the Sacramento Mountains near Alamogordo. Desert Aire is a subdivision near Chaparral in Dona Ana County.

The financing in New Mexico is part of $203 million the Agriculture Department is providing for 74 water and wastewater projects in 40 states.

NM Agriculture Groups Meet In Albuquerque - Associated Press

Hundreds of ranchers and farmers from across New Mexico are gathering in Albuquerque for the annual Stockmen's Convention.

Organizers include the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, the New Mexico Wool Growers, Dairy Producers of New Mexico and the New Mexico Federal Lands Council.

Cattle Growers President Rex Wilson says the groups are coming together to make sure agriculture's voice is heard in New Mexico and at the federal level.

Legislation, agricultural policy, property rights and land management issues will be among the topics the ranchers and farmers will be discussing through Sunday.