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New Mexico Attorney General raids district attorney's office

Caleb James and The Associated Press
January 11, 2017 09:46 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - New Mexico Attorney General agents have raided the office of a southwestern New Mexico district attorney in connection with a suspected DWI traffic stop.

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The Attorney General's office on Tuesday seized documents and a state car driven by Francesca Martinez-Estevez. The search warrant at the Grants Country office is linked to the district attorney's June traffic stop.

Martinez-Estevez, the district attorney for Sixth Judicial District, had faced calls to resign after a video of the traffic stop showed her swerving across several lanes of traffic and stumbling during her conversation with officers.

Two Silver City Police Department officers who didn't conduct field sobriety tests on Martinez-Estevez were later disciplined.

Officers say she nearly ran into an officer's car and another curb as she drove off.

Martinez-Estevez was allowed to leave the traffic stop, despite observations from officers that she appeared impaired. No charges were filed, but both Silver City Police and New Mexico State Police both called the traffic stop a "failure." 

But Martinez-Estevez isn't out of the woods in connection to the incident.

Her Silver City office was raided on Tuesday by attorney general agents executing a search warrant. The agents were looking for records detailing mileage, GPS monitoring, and repair records related to the state-owned 2015 Dodge Charger she was driving at the time of the traffic stop. 

Officers on scene, and AG agents both noted "scratches and gouges" on the car's bumper.  

The warrant references statements made by Martinez-Estevez on scene that she was delivering soup to a friend -- an apparent personal errand forbidden by the code governing the use of a state-owned car. 

The AG's petition for that search warrant states Martinez-Estevez appears to have been, "utilizing a state vehicle recklessly and for personal use, causing damage to that vehicle, and failing to provide immediate notice of accident." 

Martinez-Estevez’s attorney, Jim Foy, released a statement to KOB on the matter:

The actions of the attorney general in calling the execution of a search warrant a “raid” and the reporting of activities regarding an on-going investigation are absolutely unprecedented. First, in my 30 years as a lawyer I have never known the attorney general to prosecute allegations of speeding or reckless driving, let alone use that crime as a basis to collect evidence in a search warrant.

Second, I have never known or heard that an elected official’s driving could constitute a violation of the New Mexico Governmental Conduct Act.

Third, there was no accident or accident investigation involving this matter, so to claim Ms. Estevez could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident or failure to report an accident after the police held her for two hours is ludicrous. Months ago, Ms. Estevez was stopped by the police and the matter was investigated by two police agencies and neither chose to charge any crimes including reckless driving, failure to report an accident or leaving the scene of the accident.  There was no collision which is required by statute for failure to report. Further, the only damage was to the tire and not the vehicle.  The cost of a flat tire was way under the $500 statutory limit.

The attorney’s general’s actions are pure political grandstanding. Further, when I was the district attorney I usually did not comment on any on-going investigation regardless of whether or not it involved minor motor vehicle offenses. Yet now the world is aware of an investigation that will, as the others have, bear no fruit.

Credits

Caleb James and The Associated Press

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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