DWI corruption scandal: Identifying the APD officers and attorney at the center of a federal investigation
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – With each day, there are more repercussions in the federal investigation into multiple Albuquerque police officers. KOB 4 spent hours independently confirming the details agents have yet to release that ultimately led to the recent dismissal of dozens of DWI cases.
None of the people we’re about to identify have been officially charged.
Why we’re naming them
KOB 4 dug through hundreds of public records to identify four officers in APD’s DWI Unit.
We confirmed all four were just added to the Bernalillo County district attorney’s list of officers who have credibility issues as witnesses in court, also known as the Brady list or Giglio list.
KOB 4 confirmed the FBI raided the office of a local attorney who represented clients in the recently dismissed DWI cases, and other cases.
Finally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque confirms the raids are connected to their investigation. With that, the four Albuquerque police officers at the center of this federal investigation are:
- Officer Honorio Alba, Jr.
- Officer Harvey Johnson
- Officer Joshua Montano
- Officer Nelson Ortiz
A former supervisor is also implicated, but we can’t independently identify him as of Wednesday night.
The local attorney being investigated is Thomas Clear III.
The basis of the alleged scheme
The same scenario happens time and time again in the cases we reviewed. The officers make DWI arrests, the defendants hire this particular attorney, the officers don’t show up to court, and the cases get dismissed.
KOB 4 first learned something was going on because of a situation at a home in Los Lunas last week. We’ve confirmed through property records that the home belongs to APD Officer Harvey Johnson.
Johnson’s home was raided by the FBI last Thursday, and we later found out he worked on APD’s DWI unit, and that week many of his DWI cases were dropped by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office.
Johnson was put on administrative leave as a part of this investigation. His name now appears on the district attorney’s list of witnesses who are not credible.
Officer Honorio Alba Jr. was actually honored for his work against drunk driving last year. The group known as MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, named him their top officer for the year 2023 in the entire state of New Mexico.
A post on social media shows APD congratulating him on winning this award. There’s one winner from each state, and he was the winner in New Mexico. It’s dated July 26, 2023, only about six months ago.
Alba made approximately $148,000 in 2023, making him one of the highest earners in the department. Right now, he’s still making money because he’s on paid administrative leave while this all plays out.
Alba is the officer whose name appears the most in the cases recently dismissed by the Bernalillo County DA’s office. He’s named in 72 of the 156 dismissed cases, or 46% of them.
Officer Joshua Montano has been on the DWI unit for a long time. In fact, back in 2022, he was hit and severely injured by a drunk driver. The community and a local church came together for the officer and raised thousands of dollars to help with medical expenses.
Montano is also on administrative leave and no longer considered a credible witness by the DA’s office.
The final officer we can confirm is Officer Nelson Ortiz. He is another member of the DWI unit who happened to be one of the highest earners for the department in 2023. He made around $136,000 last year.
Montano is also reportedly on paid administrative leave right now, along with three of the four other people under investigation. Of those 156 dismissed cases dismissed so far, his name appears in 11 of them.
Thomas Clear III is the same attorney who keeps showing up on the list of dismissed DWI cases. KOB 4 confirmed last week that FBI agents also raided his office in a Mid Heights neighborhood Thursday.
Neighbors told us five or six FBI vehicles and twice as many agents showed up at the home office around 8 a.m. Thursday. They were shouting “FBI” and “search warrant” multiple times before realizing no one was home, and they used a battering ram to break down the front door.
The final element we needed to independently connect these officers to the investigation came Wednesday. Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman confirmed all four were recently added to his office’s Brady or Giglio list.
The Giglio list is a list of all the law enforcement officers who have lost their credibility in court. Very recently, those officers ended up on the district attorney’s office Giglio-Brady list.
Once on this list, anytime an officer is called as a witness in a case, the prosecutors would have to disclose that to the defense.
The Law Office of the Public Defender says the Giglio-Brady list is one way to hold police officers accountable and ensure their testimony in court is reliable.
“DWI cases are based on the testimony of the DWI investigative officer so without that testimony there is no way to continue on with that case, and it is extremely disappointing, very upsetting. But it is something we have to do. I think in due time, people will understand why they were put on that list,” Bregman said.
Bregman says he couldn’t give any more details at this time because he doesn’t want to interfere with the federal investigation.
The question everyone has is why did these officers not show up to court? Was there an incentive? That’s the part of the investigation no one is clarifying yet.
KOB 4 asked Bregman about it on Wednesday:
“Let me put it to you this way, there’s an ongoing federal investigation. I want the federal authorities, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office to do a thorough, clean investigation to root out any issues they see. And when they complete that, I imagine a lot more will come to light – but at this point, I don’t want to compromise that, I want them to be able to do their work.”
The full Giglio-Brady list is available below: