APD Power Couple Of APD Chief Geier’s Own Creation

The term “power couple” can be loosely defined as two people who are married to each other and both have extremely successful careers or hold high ranking management positions in the same company, organization or profession.

APD has its own version of a power couple when it comes to APD Commander Jennifer Bell Garcia of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit and APD Interim Deputy Chief Eric Garcia who are married.

APD Commander Jennifer Garcia is paid $95,000 a year and was promoted by APD Chief Michael Geier.

APD Deputy Chief Eric Garcia is paid $135,000 a year and was appointed by APD Chief Geier.


Deputy Chief Eric Garcia is a holdover Deputy Chief from the Chief Gordon Eden and the Berry Administration.

The Keller Administration has charged Deputy Chief Eric Garcia with implementing the Department of Justice mandated reforms.

From 2013 to 2017, Deputy Chief Eric Garcia was in charge of Investigations and the Crimes Against Children Unit and Homicide Unit answered to him which is problematic given what happened during that time frame on his watch that helped create, cause or did not stop the culture of aggression.

Deputy Chief Garcia is now in charge of implementation of the DOJ mandated reforms.

April 2014 was when the Department of Justice found that there was a “culture of aggression” within APD and when police officer involved deadly shootings were at an all-time high.

Deputy Chief Eric Garcia was ultimately in charge of the Victoria Martens murder investigation where a 10-year-old child was raped, murdered and dismembered in the bathtub of her own home in that the murder investigation occurred under his watch when he was Deputy Chief in charge of Investigations.

The Victoria Martens Child abuse case is also the same case where two APD Public information Officers were found to have lied to the media and public that Victoria Martens and her mother had been contacted and interviewed by APD regarding a referral from Children Youth and Families Department.

District Attorney Raul recently announced that his office did a two-year investigation and review of the evidence found Michelle Martens, the mother of Vitoria, falsely admitted to committing the crimes she was charged.

According to Torrez, the forensic evidence revealed Martens and her boyfriend were not even present and did not participate in the murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens.

District Attorney Raul Torrez announced he was forced to dismiss numerous felony charges against the three suspects in the murder case because of severe deficiencies in the evidence gathering and interviews conducted by the APD Homicide Unit in the murder case

There were many mistakes made by the APD Homicide Unit with the Victoria Martens murder case involving the interview and the evidence gathering process.

Nothing has ever been disclosed about Deputy Chief Eric Garcia’s management involvement with the Victoria Martens murder case nor of his involvement with the false information disseminated by APD spokespersons, even though he was in charge of Investigations for Crimes Against Children and Homicide and he knew or should have known what was going on with case.


In 2015, Jennifer Bell Garcia became the Lieutenant in charge of Internal Affairs and then her position was upgraded to Commander of Internal Affairs by Chief Michael Geier.

Internal Affairs is responsible for providing fair, thorough, and comprehensive administrative investigations of claims relating to police misconduct and evaluation of department policies, practices, procedures, and training.

All sworn police officers assigned to the Internal Affairs Unit are held to a higher standard in order to have any credibility investigating police misconduct cases.

A few months ago, the City of Albuquerque hired a private agency to investigate allegations of wrongdoing against APD Internal Affairs Commander Jennifer Bell Garcia.

It has now been reported that the investigation against Commander Jennifer Garcia has been completed.

APD has not announced what the specific allegations against Jennifer Garcia were nor how they were brought to the department’s attention nor who made the allegations.

Confidential sources are saying that Jennifer Garcia falsified public documents and lied in an Internal Affairs Investigation.

On July 10, 2018, ABQ Report asked APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos whether APD could confirm rumors that Garcia was under investigation, that she had been transferred to the Traffic Division and that she had been suspended for five weeks.


Gallegos was also asked whether Geier would move to revoke Garcia’s law enforcement license and whether he had referred the case to the District Attorney’s office.

In response to ABQ Reports inquiry, APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos issued the following statement:

“An investigation was initiated following a complaint of alleged misconduct by Commander Jennifer Garcia earlier this year. She had been recently promoted as Commander assigned to IA at that time [by Chief Michael Geier]. Following a preliminary review by command staff, the investigation was assigned to a private investigations agency. The agency conducted a thorough investigation and presented its findings to the Chief, Human Resources Department and members of the City Attorney’s staff. The Chief reviewed their report and is currently in the process of making a final determination in this matter. No final action has been taken. As a high-ranking officer in APD, she will be held to a higher standard of accountability due to her position and assignment at the time. She was transferred from that assignment in IA to Traffic Division at the onset of this investigation.”


The APD Internal Affairs Unit needs to be abolished and its functions absorbed by the Office Independent Council.

APD has consistently shown it cannot police itself which contributed to the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice.

The pending disciplinary action against Commander Jennifer Garcia and her relationship with Deputy Chief Eric Garcia in the APD upper command staff is further evidence that APD cannot police itself because of the inherent biases of one police officer investigating another.

The function and responsibility for investigating police misconduct cases and violations of personnel policy and procedures by police should be assumed by the Office of Independent Council in conjunction with the City Human Resources Department and the Office of Internal Audit where necessary.

The investigation of police misconduct cases including excessive use of force cases not resulting in death or serious bodily harm should be done by “civilian” personnel investigators.

The Office of Independent Council would make findings and recommendations to the APD Chief for implementation and imposition of the recommended disciplinary action.

The investigation of police misconduct cases including excessive use of force cases not resulting in death or nor serious bodily harm should be done by “civilian” personnel investigators.

APD’s chain of command is clear: Commanders report to Deputies who report to the Chief with the Chief selecting the Commanders and Deputies and who serve at the pleasure of the Chief.

The APD Deputy Chiefs and the Internal Affairs Commander are responsible for and in charge of enforcement APD’s professional standards and involved with imposition of disciplinary action as well as carrying out the Department of Justice mandated reforms.

Deputy Chiefs and Commanders must be held to a higher standard, including being held responsible and accountable by the Chief for their own conduct and management decisions and mistakes and failures of the past.

The fact that the Commander of APD Internal Affairs unit has now been found to have engaged in wrongdoing is by all accounts totally unacceptable and demands swift action by Chief Geier without biasness or influence to restore some semblance of confidence in his own management team.

By virtue of the high-ranking positions held by Deputy Chief Eric Garcia and his wife Commander Jennifer Bell Garcia, it is difficult to comprehend how APD Chief Michael Geier could not understand nor appreciate the danger of conflicts of interests or appearance of impropriety that could arise with one overseeing or being involved with the review of the other’s conduct and management decisions.

APD Chief Geier is now faced with a difficult personnel management decision on how to deal with a “power couple” within his department of his own creation.

Geier must now to deal with the ramifications of taking disciplinary action against one of his appointed Commanders that will likely have an affect on his working relationship with his appointed Deputy in charge of implementing the Department of Justice mandated reforms.

Geier has already taken steps and has asked at least two APD Commanders to retire or be demoted to Lieutenant because of their job performance under the previous administration.

One consideration Geier should take into account now is deciding if it is time thank Deputy Chief Eric Garcia for is 25 years of service and ask him to retire and move on because of his past job performance in managing the Homicide Unit and Crimes Against Children Unit.

Rest assured Geier’s entire upper command are watching just how committed he is to holding his chain of command responsible and accountable for their past and present conduct.

Abolishing “Good Ol Boy” Detective Selection

During the July 12, 2018 regular meeting of the City’s Police Oversight Board, APD Chief Michael Geier made a presentation regarding the practices and methods used to hire and train APD Homicide Detectives.


APD Chief Michael Geier, along with APD Commander Paul Duran, may not have used the term and may not have realized it, but basically announced perhaps the beginning of the end of the “good-ol boy” system in the hiring, selection or promotion of detectives.

The Police Oversight Board requested Chief Geier to make the presentation after extensive media reports surrounding the investigation of the murder case of 10-year old Victoria Martens who was raped, murdered, dismembered and burned in her home.

District Attorney Raul Torrez announced he was force to dismiss numerous felony charges against the three suspects in the murder case because of severe deficiencies in the evidence gathering and interviews conducted by the APD Homicide Unit in the murder case.


Chief Geier along with APD Commander Paul Duran of the Homicide Unit made the presentation to the Police Oversight Board.

Geier and Duran discussed the practice for selecting and training homicide detectives.

Areas discussed with the board ranged from how crimes are investigated, to who is deemed qualified enough to investigate certain crimes, and the training involved for those officers wanting to become detectives.


Currently, any police officer who has a desire to become a Detective in the Homicide Unit can, so long as they seek certain types of training that detectives would need, such as interrogation and criminal investigations courses made available to them.

According to Chief Geier the current practice is for sworn police officers to go from field services to detective, with both position being essentially the same with respect to rank.

The only difference between a uniformed police officer and a detective is that one wears a badge, a police uniform and carries a gun while the other has the title “detective” and wears civilian clothes, carries a gun and badge.

Chief Geier made it clear that at this point becoming a detective is considered a lateral move and not a promotion.

The current practice has been that police officers do not receive a promotion or raise if they become a detective.

Police Officers aspiring to become detectives have to take it upon themselves to enroll in certain training classes.

Police officers starting out in a detective role usually spend a few years investigating lower level crimes and Geier explained it saying:

“They work these in the area command and investigate things like property crimes, shoplifting, burglaries. … It’s kind of like an apprenticeship because that’s where detectives really start their training.”

The way the process works now is that if a person is selected for a detective position, they start as a more general detective working in a particular area command, investigating such things as property crimes and domestic violence cases without serious injuries.

As the officer continues to gain experience and seek out training courses, the detective can then be selected for a specialty unit like crimes against children or homicide.

According to Chief Geier:

“There is a hierarchy with some of the most serious crimes being at the top, homicide being one of them. … So of course, we wouldn’t want someone who just came from patrol to become a homicide detective. We want that series of steps where that person gained experience.”

Chief Geier made a stunning admission that has been believed to be true for years by outside observers of the Albuquerque Police Department:

“In the past, I regret to say this, but sometimes if you’re friends with someone that’s served in units, you have an inside track.”


Outsider observers would call the Chief’s comments the admission of a “good ol boy” system for transfers and promotions which has gone on for years within APD and not just within the Homicide Unit but has included other units, especially including the SWAT Unit.

The “good ol boy” approach to transfers in law enforcement is the worst form of cronyism among people who have known each other for a period of time with transfers based on friendships and not qualifications.

Chief Geier said detectives need more training, especially when they are interviewing people with mental health issues.

Dealing with a mentally deficient person is a lesson learned in the case of Michelle Martens who falsely implicated herself and another suspect in the death of her daughter.

Chief Geier made another surprising admission to the Police Oversight Board when he said:

“We’re really kind of at fault for leading them [people with mental health issues] on and not knowing that or understanding that process, that’s the kind of new training that’s out there that we have to look at.”

All sworn police officers have already received 40 hours of crisis intervention dealing with the mentally ill as a result of the reforms mandated by the Federal consent decree and cases like mentally ill homeless camper John Boyd who was shot and killed in the Sandia Foothills by APD.

Commander Duran reported that there are now 10 Detectives assigned to the Homicide unit and that APD wants to increase the number even further.

Commander Duran could not answer the question as to how many Detectives he needs to deal with the existing case load.

Duran said he did not know what the national standard number of cases is per detective.


Chief Geier and Commander Duran announced that a “working group” has been formed to make it a more formal process to become an APD Detective.

The working group includes detectives, supervisors, and a District Attorney’s office representative.

The working group is tasked with coming up with advanced training and more hands-on testing to become an APD Detective.

According to Geier, the ultimate goal is to implement a process for a more formal and structured, definitive career path for APD Detectives.

Chief Geier told the Police Oversight Board he wants to implement a “well-developed process” that looks at giving officers who have a genuine interest in more opportunities to gain knowledge early on in their careers.

A career path approach will require officers to take “prerequisites” and training courses before they can even apply to be a detective.

A major goal is to require all detectives to have more advanced training throughout their careers.

The new career path that Chief Geier envisions will include written and oral exam testing, a form of “hands on assessment” and include requirements already in place for officers who are receiving a promotion.

According to Geier:

“The idea is not to just take people out of the blue and place them in these assignments, we want to prepare them so they are well trained and not an expedited process, but one that they’ve earned.”

Chief Geier said they are considering putting a year probation on each assignment the officer will have to complete and said:

“So, if they don’t cut the mustard, so to speak, or they find out it isn’t right for them or they’re just not meeting the requirements, then we can pull them from that assignment during that probation period.”

What courses the officers will need to take to become a detective have yet to be finalized.

Geier also said he will consider giving officers raises if they make detective.

Chief Geier summed things up for the Police Oversight Board by saying:

“We want to build their skill set from the first time they become a detective to when they leave their career and retire. … So hopefully it’s a lifetime path so that they don’t lose that experience and we have a better chance at serving [the] public. … This is the plan for the future. … The goal is that we build a quality career path.”


On April 18, 2018, APD released the city’s crime statistics for the first quarter of 2018 (January to March) comparing them to the first quarter of 2017, (January to March) and the statistics revealed that the property crime rates are down, but the homicide rate increased by an alarming 50%.

There were 6 more murders in the first quarter of 2018 compared with 2017, which is a 50% increase.

In March of this year, 5 homicides were reported in six days.

Albuquerque has had twenty (21) homicides reported in the first 4 months of this year.

There are 36 murder cases from last year that have yet to be cleared with upwards of 40 murders committed this year thus far.

APD’s “clearance rate” is currently in the mid 50%, if not lower.

According to the proposed 2018-2019 APD City Budget, in 2016 the APD homicide clearance rate was 80%, in 2017 the clearance rate was 70% and the projected clearance rate is 46% for mid-year.

The 2009 “West Side Serial Killer” murder case where 12 woman, along with an unborn child, were killed and buried still remains unsolved.

Albuquerque is on track to exceeding the all-time number of 70 homicides in one year.


For the last 8 months, Chief Michael Geier has done a very respectable job of settling down a trouble plagued police department.

Geier publicly has made a firm commitment to the DOJ mandated reforms.

The only real public misstep thus far has been his defense of APD in the evidence gathering of the blood-stained underwear of a 9-year-old female child who was being prostituted by her parents.

The case was where a police officer refuse to take and tag into evidence the garment but threw it into the garbage.

Ultimately, Mayor Keller and Geier to their credit ordered an Internal affairs investigation and changes to standard operating procedures in the investigation of child abuse cases were announced.

What is simmering under the radar for Chief Geier is that Commander of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Training Academy John Sullivan retired with allegations that Geier forced him out.

Former Commander Sullivan of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Training Academy ended what he called “good-ol’-boy testing,” which he described as instructors telling officers what was going to be on their tests and allowing them to take tests as a group.


Now the real hard part begins for Chief Geier with reforming the hiring, training, transferring and promotion practices of the department.

The “working group” announced to come up with the hiring and training of detectives with a career path is an excellent first step, but only a first step, and will be meaningless if not carried out and is done only for show.

Sources are reporting that upwards of 50 lateral transfers from other agencies are going to work for APD as a result of the pay incentive program initiated by the Keller Administration.

The first priority should be to hire lateral hires who are experienced homicide detectives.

The APD Homicide Unit, now even with 10 Detectives, has the lowest number of assigned Detectives in years with the experience level severely lacking.

The “good ol boy” system contributed to the “culture of aggression” which was found by the Department of Justice three years ago.

It was the APD SWAT Unit that generated so much attention and was investigated by the Department of Justice for the handling of high level call outs that resulted in 18 police officer deadly use of force killings within one year alone.

The “good ol boy” approach to transfers in law enforcement is the worst form of cronyism among people who have known each other for a period of time and where friendships and shared attitudes are given greater weight than qualifications and talent.

Transfer’s based on friendships and not qualifications to handle some of the most egregious violent crime investigations, and for that matter SWAT situations, should never be tolerated.

The “good ol boy” system for transfers and promotions has gone on for way too many years and it must stop throughout APD and not just within the homicide unit.

You can anticipate that the the Albuquerque Police Officers Associate (APOA) will oppose and strenuously resist the effort by the Keller Administration to make the position of detective separate and distinct from field service uniformed officers, especially when the effort is made to make Detective a promotion with a raise.

The police union will demand to have a seat at the table in the determination of qualifications and pay grade and make it part of the union contract.

Chief Geier is commended for his efforts with the Homicide Unit and he has his work cut out for him with other specialized units and dealing with the police union.

Time is of the essence when Albuquerque is suffering a murder rate of epidemic proportions.

As the saying goes “Better late than never”.

Putin and Russia Were Listening When Trump Ask For Their Help

A few months ago, Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced that 20 people and three companies had been charged in the his investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election to help Trump get elected.

The charges included four former Trump campaign and White House aides and 13 Russians accused of participating in a clandestine social media campaign to sway American public opinion in the 2016 election to get Donald Trump elected.

On Friday, July 13. 2018, the Justice Department announced charges against 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses during the 2016 presidential election.


Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments as part of the ongoing special counsel probe into potential coordination between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia.

The Russians are accused of hacking into the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, and then releasing stolen emails on the internet in the months before the election.

In making the announcement Rosenstein said:

“The internet allows foreign adversaries to attack Americans in new and unexpected ways. … Free and fair elections are hard-fought and contentious and there will always be adversaries who work to exacerbate domestic differences and try to confuse, divide and conquer us.”

Rosenstein, who said he had briefed President Donald Trump on the indictment, said there was no allegation that the hacking altered any vote count or that any Americans were knowingly in communication with any of the Russian officers.

The statement that the hacking did not alter any vote is laughable and what is important is that Trump asked for the hacking and Putin and Russia accommodated his request.


In the morning of July 27, 2016, Donald Trump encouraged Russian hackers to find emails that had been deleted from Hillary Clinton’s private server that she used while serving as secretary of state.


“I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing … “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Trump said at a press conference in Florida.

On July 27, 2016, it appears that Vladamir Putin and Russia were listening and heeded Trump’s call for help to get him elected President.

According to the federal indictment of the 12 Russian intelligence officers for their involvement in hacking the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election, the Russian hacking occurred on July 27, 2016 and hours after Trump gave his press conference and encouraged Russian hackers to find Clinton’s emails.

The indictment states that on July 27, 2016, the same day as Trump’s press conference, Russian hackers, “for the first time,” attempted to break into email accounts, including those used by Clinton’s personal office.

Notably, the indictment is very specifies that the hack happened in the evening, meaning the Russian officials could have done it after Trump’s press conference.


On July 17, 2018, President Trump is scheduled to have his very first one on one summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin when Trump travels to Helsinki.


It turns out the “summit” will be held in private between the two leaders.

CNN reported that Trump and Putin will not be accompanied by aides when he meets with Putin and reported:

“Without official note-takers or other witnesses, one-on-one meetings lack any official record, making it difficult afterward to determine whether agreements have been reached. Putin is known as a shrewd negotiator who some officials worry could exploit such a session and extract concessions from Trump.”

It should be alarming to any American that Trump wants to hold private discussions with our nation’s number one adversary who attacked the United States in order to put him in power.

But not in the age of Trump.

Whether the Republican Congress and Trump supporters want to admit it or not, Trump is currently the subject of a criminal investigation, with investigators examining whether his political operation cooperated with Moscow during its intelligence operation that targeted the 2016 election to defeat Hillary Clinton.


You would think after being briefed about the indictments and told of the revelations contained in the indictment, Trump would cancel his summit with Putin.

But no, why should Trump ever do the right thing for his country, especially when he needs to thank Vlad for all his help in winning the election.

No one knows what will be on the agenda for discussion.

Trump wants to have the meeting in private with Putin so he can thank him personally for making him the first Russian elected President of the United States.

There is nothing that prevents Trump from agreeing to pardon the charges against the 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted.

Putin will never agree the extradition of his own intelligence officers to the United States to face the charges seeing as Putin probably ordered the hacking himself after Trump asked for it in such a public manner.

Rumor has it that Trump will also be delivering a check in the amount of $130,000 made payable to Vladimir Putin drawn on the account of attorney Michael Cohen in exchange for the video he has of Trump with two prostitutes when he was in Moscow for his Miss American Pagent.

Perhaps Putin will turn over the recording of his meeting in Helsinki with Trump to the United States Congress to be used as evidence of “treason and high crimes and misdemeanors” for Trump’s impeachment.

Personal Income Tax (PIT) Exemption Proposed For Military Retirees

Following is a guest commentary from Dave Coulie, Captain, USAF (Ret) and Max Johnson, Lt Colonel , NMNG (Ret):

As a 40+ year resident of our state I was saddened to read in the July 5, 2018 Albuquerque Journal that between 2011 and 2016 an unprecedented exodus of New Mexican’s left the Land of Enchantment in search of jobs and homes.

Economists estimate 42,000 more people exited the state then entered it. This includes military retirees and their families leaving for other states where their retired pay is not taxed. This is an alarming “brain drain” since the majority exiting the state were college educated including 17,000 with bachelor’s degrees.

It struck home to me because this number that left could have been significantly tempered had we years ago taken action to provide incentives to military retirees and their families to come to New Mexico.

I am writing well in advance of the 2019, 60 Day, session to ask your support to recommend legislation that will finally move New Mexico from the lowest ranks of best places for military retirees .A current (2018) “Wallet Hub” survey, link enclosed, ranks our state a dismal 47th? in this category. That’s a self-inflicted wound.

I retired from the Air Force in 1983 following a 23-year career. I remained in New Mexico and was employed here in the aerospace industry for an additional 23 years. I raised a family here and have two sons and three grandchildren living, working or attending school in New Mexico. Military retirees most often find good jobs, pay taxes, and contribute to the State’s economy in numerous ways.

Most of my colleagues leaving military service in New Mexico, including many who were from New Mexico, opted to retire in Florida or Texas or elsewhere for tax reasons. The benefits of keeping or bringing these retirees to New Mexico is evident.
Each year approximately 150,000 men and women leave military service. Approximately 50,000 are military retirees or qualify for retiree pay.

The average military retirement pay is $36k. Seventy-two percent of retirees are enlisted and 28 percent commissioned. They come to a state largely “unburdened” in that they have a decent pension, good health care benefits, great skills, and many are inclined to be entrepreneurs and business owners.

According to the US Small Business Administration one in 10 small businesses in the U.S. is veteran owned and retired service members are 45% more likely than those without any active duty military service to be self employed.

This annual retiree pay bundle amounts to $50 Billion dollars that is going to be spent where ever the retirees decide to settle. Many would like to come to NM but do not because of tax treatment.

These military retirees are seeking a place to settle, plant roots, buy homes, vehicles, appliances, etc… Many start a second career and, as noted, in many cases they will start a business. Uncle Sam will move them without cost to most places in the Country.

They bring unparalleled skills honed over a 20+ year career, Medical, Engineering, IT, Teachers, etc…. They are at the top of their experiential level. Most all are proven managers, supervisors, and leaders. Give them an incentive and they will remain in, or come to, New Mexico.

Eighteen States currently provide a 100% income tax exemption to military retirees. Nine other states have no income tax. That’s 27 states that many military retirees will look at before considering New Mexico.

Many military retirees want to come to, or stay in, New Mexico. Many have served at our military bases, and they know we have great quality of life, a super climate, new business assistance, a great veteran service organization and many other attractions. They also know that they can get in-state tuition rates at NM schools for their Post 9-11 GI Bill benefits that are valued at more than $55K per person.

New Mexico’s current 20,000 military retirees are responsible for approximately $1.5 billion dollars flowing in to the state’s economy (derived from pensions, second career jobs, social security, property and GRT taxes, health benefits, and new jobs created in the state).

It’s commonly accepted that every million dollars of Federal Transfer Funds coming to the state creates 10 – 12 new jobs. For every 2.4 new retirees one new job is created. Also consider that for every new job created, that’s one less person on the state’s unemployment (and maybe welfare) rolls. Another cogent plus is that attracting and retaining more military retirees could help ameliorate the financial peaks and valleys inherent in our oil and natural gas revenues.

I respectfully request your support to call for legislation to finally provide a Personal Income Tax (PIT) exemption to the pay of military retirees and their widowed spouses. Over the past 10 years both houses of the NM legislature have unanimously approved such legislation but never in the same session. Most often the reluctance to approve was attributed to the initial financial impact of the exemption.

Given the considerably brighter financial prospect for the coming year(s) the timing is right to approve this exemption and give it a chance to prove the ROI inherent in the initiative that has been proven in many other states.

Thank you for your consideration and your service to our State.

Dave Coulie, Captain, USAF (Ret)
Max Johnson, Lt Colonel , NMNG (Ret)


The arguments raised by these two retired military are points worth considering.

The one thing I cannot figure out is why does the federal government still tax Social Security retirement benefits as regular income when you start to receive them.

When you start to draw Social Security, they ask how much do you want to withhold for federal tax purposes and you can withhold as much as 13%.

The feds supposedly held on to all your money while you worked for 36 years having the benefit of the use of your money and then taxes you on it once you draw on it at retirement when you are suppose to be in a lower tax bracket.

And you wonder why no one saves that much for retirement.

DA Torrez Steps Into Political Landmine Field That Could Blow Up His Career

Joe Monahan in his political blog picked up and reported on news that really should come as no surprise to anyone.

District Attorney Raul Torrez just may have a major challenger for District Attorney in his 2020 race for reelection, if he decides to run as expected.

The one name surfacing at this point is Ahmad Assed, a longtime Democratic party activist and a very prominent criminal defense attorney known for his fundraising abilities.

There is no doubt that Ahmad Assed is one of the more successful and respected criminal defense trial attorneys in Albuquerque.

Assad’s prominence is one reason one local TV news agency has him frequently making expert commentary and analysis on high profile criminal cases.


Torrez announced that his office did a two-year investigation and review of the evidence found Michelle Martens falsely admitted to committing the crimes she was charged.

According to Torrez, the forensic evidence revealed Martens and her boyfriend were not even present and did not participate in the murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens who was raped, murdered, dismembered and then burned in a bathtub of her home.

The plea agreement Torrez negotiated was to one count of child abuse, recklessly caused, resulting in the death of a child under 12 and guarantees a 12 to 15-year sentence and dropping the most egregious charges.

DA Torrez agreed that Michelle Martens’ crime she plead guilty to will not be classified as a serious violent offense, meaning she could see her sentence cut in half for good behavior and serve as little as 6 years if she is sentenced to 12 years.

The probability that Martens will be sentence to 12 years is very high.

A pretrial sentence report will be prepared for the District Court Judge who will sentence her.

Given Michelle Marten’s impaired mental capacity, the fact she has no prior record and she is cooperating with authorities by turning state’s evidence, a recommendation will be made as to her sentence and a reduced sentence recommendation is within the realm of possibilities.

Michelle Martens will get two years credit for time served because she has been in jail for two years pending trial, so it is possible that Martens could be out of prison in 4 years.

Assed has been openly critical of the very lenient plea Torres negotiated and agreed to with Michelle Martins.

In legal circles, the fact that such a very prominent defense attorney would take issue with the plea agreement is what is notable.


In 2016, when Torrez was running for District Attorney, he proclaimed that our criminal justice system was broken and that he was the guy who could fix it.

Just a mere year ago, Torrez again claimed that our judicial system was broken stating the decisions by the judges to dismiss cases were “absurd”.

Torres proclaimed defense attorneys were “gaming the system” to get their clients off.

Torrez will now have to justify his own words and accusations that he is “gaming the system” to an extent against two defendants who have been in jail for two years that did not commit the crime of murder.

Even if Ahmed Assed decides to forgo a run against Torrez, you can expect others to start to emerge to run against him, especially as things unfold in the Martens case.

The Victoria Martens murder case is far from over.

Fabian Gonzales, Michelle Matens boyfriend, is no longer being charged with murder in the Victoria Martens case, but he is still facing a charge of child abuse resulting in death despite not being the 10-year-old’s parent or caregiver.

Gonzales is also facing charges including tampering with evidence for the dismemberment and burning of the body of 10-year old Victoria.

Defendant Jessica Kelley will go on trial in January, 2019 facing charges of rape and murder.

As many as two more suspects have yet to be identified by the authorities.

Torrez could easily step on a political landmine if he negotiates another plea agreement that is considered way too lenient by the general public as was the Michelle Martens plea deal.

You can bet the pretrial publicity in this case generated will have an impact on the political career and future of Raul Torrez.

On Sunday July 8, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal published a third front page, banner headline report entitled “VICTORIA MARTENS CASE: ‘We want to make it right for this little girl’ with the quote coming from Raul Torrez.

The full story can be read here:


If Torrez fails to bring the remaining defendants to justice you can bet the case will be a career ending one for the very politically ambitious Raul Torrez who “did not make it right for this little girl.”

Voters can be very forgiving except in cases where justice is promised but never delivered for the brutal murder of a 10-year-old.


Following Joe Monahan’s complete blog article he published on July 11, 2018:

“The murder case that has rocked the city like no other could soon be rocking the political scene, with word circulating that veteran criminal defense attorney Ahmad Assed is seriously weighing a run against BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez in the 2020 Democratic primary.

That may seem a long way off but the horrific murder of 10 year old Victoria Martens will be remembered far into the future and Torrez’s handling of the case would be front and center if Assed makes the run, say those pushing him to take on Torrez.

Torrez has been making the media rounds in recent days trying to quiet public outrage over the Martens case, including the stunning plea bargain his office made with Victoria’s mother. It was a deal that could see her serving as little as half a dozen years in prison and has not gone down well in a community scarred by the ghoulish murder. Victoria was raped, strangled, dismembered and her lifeless body set afire in an apartment bathtub.

The revelation that Michelle Martens was not directly involved in her daughter’s slaying but was away from the apartment searching for drugs with boyfriend Fabian Gonzales at the time of the killing had the city reeling from shock. For nearly two years they (and the authorities) believed the false confession the mother had given and that Victoria would have justice. When Torrez announced that Michelle Martens was lying and that an unidentified fourth suspect is now being sought in the sensational case, the city again gasped.

Now Assed, a UNM law school grad with deep community ties, enters the picture. His voice has been heard on the case via his role as a legal analyst for KOB-TV and he hasn’t backed off from criticizing Torrez’s handling of the notorious murder. For example, he said this about the “John Doe” suspect whose DNA, Torrez announced, was found on Victoria’s back:

“Why do we publicize that we are looking for this unidentified individual? And if he does exist, why do we put him on notice that we’re looking for him? This is a big problem for me. I’m sure maybe the DA’s office has their reasoning for doing that.”

And Assed told the viewing audience that the entire case could be in danger of collapsing:

“It’s a leap to associate the finding of the DNA – those samples – with a crime. There’s transferred DNA that happens all the time. I don’t know how long that DNA’s been there—could have been there days, could have been there months, could have been three hours.

Based on the District Attorney’s Office view of the case in the beginning and the investigation and the hyping of the case, it is extremely difficult for us to believe anything that the District Attorney’s Office is going to say about a fourth component, unidentified individual. What they need is evidence.”


But it is that plea bargain that Torrez said he had no choice but to make that is the DA’s soft underbelly and what Assed is sure to key on if he enters the race. Here’s how one of those egging on Assed puts it:

“Raul’s had the case for a year and a half and cut a BS plea deal with her scumbag mother, but the Journal wants the public to give him credit for being on top of the case, for some bizarre, twisted reason–even though Torrez has said he’s not going after the guy who gave 10-year-old Victoria a sexually transmitted disease. What a bunch of BS.”

Former BernCo Chief Deputy District Attorney and ’13 ABQ mayoral candidate Pete Dinelli also believes the plea bargain poses political trouble for the DA:

“The leniency Torrez showed towards a mother who placed her 10-year-old child in harm’s way and made the child a victim of one of the most horrendous murders in Albuquerque history will be remembered given his own past statements on our criminal justice system and conduct towards Judges. In 2016, when Torrez was running for District Attorney, he proclaimed that our criminal justice system was broken and that he was the guy who could fix it. Just a mere year ago, Torrez again claimed that our judicial system was broken stating the decisions by the judges to dismiss cases were “absurd.” Torrez proclaimed defense attorneys were “gaming the system” to get their clients off.”

The ABQ Journal ran a weekend editorial about the case, largely exonerating Torrez of any blame for the mishaps that have occurred in the Martens case. The DA has ingratiated himself with the GOP-oriented paper as well as the Gov. Martinez political machine. That’s making some Democrats antsy. Further, his critiques of local judges have made him enemies and could help an opponent like Assed raise a hefty amount of cash to finance a primary challenge.

The 2020 Dem primary will likely be decisive. Republicans have shown no interest in the race, letting Torrez run unopposed in 2016.

In reality much of the blame for the failed investigation of Victoria’s murder can be laid in the lap of APD but Torrez has been easy on them, saying his office and APD will learn from the mistakes but his reticence to hold APD more accountable makes him more of a target.

DA Torrez has often been mentioned as a candidate for higher office someday but right now holding on to the one he has may be the stiffest political challenge he ever faces. Stay tuned.”


State Auditor Wayne Johnson’s Incompetence Not At All Puzzling

State Auditor Wayne Johnson sure likes to go around and tell others how they need to do their jobs, especially any agency involved with the criminal justice system, but he becomes “puzzled” when he is told he is not doing his job himself and not following the law.

On May 23, 2018 New Mexico State Auditor Wayne Johnson with great fanfare announced he would conduct a “special audit” examination of the Bernalillo County criminal justice system.


Johnson’s special audit includes seven state agencies: the District Court, Metro Court, the Albuquerque Police Department, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Metropolitan Detention Center, the Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.

Wayne Johnson announced he wanted his office do a “special audit” to look into possible “gaps” within the Second Judicial District and the criminal justice system in an effort to combat crime in the Albuquerque metro area.

On June, 26, 2018 it was announced that State District Court officials were seeking Attorney General Hector Balderas’s opinion on whether the state auditor’s plan to examine Bernalillo County’s justice system “exceeds the authority and power” of the State Auditor’s office.


In the letter to Attorney General Hector Balderas, 2nd District Chief Judge Nan Nash and Court Executive Officer Jim Noel said they believe the state auditor’s plan to examine the system through a series of audits “invites needless waste of tax payer money” and may exceed his authority.

The authority of the State Auditor is to conduct both financial and special financial audits review the financial affairs of government agencies, including contracts, purchases agreements and make sure that the government agencies are not engaged in fraud, waste and abuse of government and taxpayer funds.

The State Auditor does not have any prosecutorial authority and when criminal wrongdoing is found in an audit, it is turned over to the appropriate state or federal prosecuting agency.

Johnson got the bright and very mistaken idea that he has the authority to audit and entire criminal justice system, especially judge’s decisions to deny prosecutor’s efforts to detain people in jail pending trial.

It should not come as any surprise that the 2nd Judicial Court is now questioning Johnson’s authority or is empowered by law to do his special audit in that the audit is not a financial audit dealing with the expenditure of taxpayer money which is all that is allowed by law.

Attorney General Hector Balderas has yet to announce or make know his opinion regarding State Auditor’s authority to conduct an audit of an entire criminal justice system.


June 29, State Auditor Wayne Johnson sent a letter to Attorney General Hector Balderas claiming that the Office of the State Auditor was unable to complete audits of the MLK State Commission from 2014 on because documents required remained in the possession of the Office of the Attorney General.

On July 9, Attorney General Hector Balderas took state Auditor Wayne Johnson to task in a letter for not completing audits of the Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission.

Balderas pointed out the Johnson’s office failed to use digital copies of papers, as well as digital images of desktop files, that were readily available and provided to the new executive director of the MLK State Commission as far back as September 2016, as well as in the possession of the independent accounting firm hired to review the documents by the State Auditor.


Balderas made his position clear to Johnson that by not using electronic files to complete the audits, Johnson was in violation of a number of statutory requirements, as well as accounting and financial reporting standards.

Balderas did not mince words with Johnson when he wrote:

“I am concerned that recent public statements and actions by the [Office of the State Auditor] represent a pattern of failure to uphold these statutory duties and result in the public being misled. … Neither the contracted audit firm, nor the current [Office of the State Auditor] administration reached out to the [Office of the Attorney General] to inquire about documents that were claimed to be unavailable, nor did the state auditor inform the state attorney general about concerns regarding “missing financial documentation from an at-risk agency. … the [Office of State Auditor] has failed to ensure that the MLK Commission has been thoroughly examined and audited, which could assist law enforcement in detecting whether any further malfeasance has occurred.”

Rather than responding to the Attorney General directly and in writing , Johnson issued a pathetic statement to the Albuquerque Journal saying:

“[One of my top priorities is] refusing to allow entities to evade audits for years, and also requiring audits of state entities that for many years have not been required to account for their spending of taxpayer dollars. … It’s puzzling that in one breath, the AG suggests using all options available for the OSA to seek missing documentation, then says those documents have already been provided to the (MLK) Commission”.


Wayne Johnson may be puzzled with the Attorney General Hector Balderas and what he was told in a letter, but what is not at all puzzling to the electorate is that Wayne Johnson has no business being New Mexico State Auditor and he has no idea what he is doing.

Attorney General Hector Balderas is the former New Mexico State Auditor who served with distinction for 8 years.

Balderas, more than anyone, knows full well the powers and authority of the State Auditor’s office, the position Wayne Johnson has now held for a mere 6 months and who wants to be elected to in November.

Hector Balderas has also served with distinction for close to 4 years as the New Mexico Attorney General and in all likely will be reelected come November.

Wayne Johnson now gets into a very public “tit-for-tat” with the very public official that has real power to investigate and indict on criminal charges as well as the individual who could gut Johnson’s special audit of a criminal justice system he vilifies so much so he can get elected.

Perhaps Johnson should learn how to do his job and stop telling others how to do theirs, but then again he will only be able to use such knowledge for a little more than 5 months.