Former Rio Arriba County sheriff sentenced for role in 2017 pursuit

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SANTA FE, N.M. – Former Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan was sentenced in state court Thursday after being found guilty for his role during a pursuit in 2017.

Lujan was sentenced to three years on one count of bribery of a witness and intimidation – and 18 months on one count of harboring a felon. The judge ruled he will serve his three years in prison and 18 months of supervised probation.

Lujan resigned from being sheriff after he was found guilty Wednesday.

According to the Rio Arriba County Manager, Major Billy Merrifield will temporarily oversee the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office. The county commission will call for a special meeting where they will appoint someone to the position.

Another former Rio Arriba County Sheriff, Thomas R. Rodella, was sentenced in 2015 to 10 years in federal prison for violating an Española man’s rights during a traffic stop. Rodella reportedly threatened that man with a gun and beat him with his badge.