APD Accuses Former APD Spokesman Simon Drobik Of Time Card Fraud; Investigation Must Go All The Way Up APD Chain Of Command And Mayor’s Office; Four Ambitious “Would Be Governors” On Collision Course

Late Friday afternoon, October 23, in a very dramatic and hard fall from grace, former Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Department Spokesman Simon Drobik was accused in an APD Internal Affairs Investigation (IA) of repeated time card fraud from January to May of 2020. Ironically announced in a APD press release by an APD Spokesman, the IA investigation found Drobik violated several policies and was paid tens of thousands of dollars in overtime that he did not actually work. In July, Drobik was about to be fired from APD when he retired amid the IA investigation. Drobik had been with APD for 21 years.

APD Internal Affairs investigators are saying Drobik committed rampant fraud, possibly at a criminal level. APD says Drobik was “gaming the system” by working private security at local businesses known as chief’s overtime while he was on regular duty. He is also accused of negotiating his way out of taking service calls and showing up late and leaving early along with dozens of other violations during a five-month period at the beginning of the year.

According to the APD press release, the IA investigation found that Drobik committed the following violations:

Not reporting to duty on time
Not notifying supervisor when leaving post
92 time sheet violations
54 instances of negotiating to not take calls for service
38 instances of being on-call while working Chief’s Overtime
26 violations of reporting hours worked of chief’s overtime
3 instances of leaving prior to end of a work shift



Simon Drobik has hired prominent criminal Defense Attorney Sam Bregman to represent him. Not at all surprising and in typical Defense Attorney Bragman style, Bregman boldly proclaimed to the press:

“[The allegations are] absolutely false. … Officer Drobik never, ever cheated on a time card. He worked overtime due to being ordered to do so by a deputy chief, and every bit of his time was approved by a deputy chief. … APD is now trying to throw him under the bus. … If this goes any further, we plan on fighting it in a courtroom. … And we believe this is actually just a cover-up on the part of this administration for their structural inaccuracies in the police department.”


On Friday, April 12, 2019, it was reported that the APD Civilian Police Oversight (CPO) Agency recommended the dismissal of APD Public Information Officer Simon Drobik as well as his former supervisor for overtime pay abuse. The CPOA investigators found that throughout 2018 Drobik violated personnel policies more than 50 times by getting paid simultaneously for being on call as a spokesman and working “chief’s overtime”. Chief’s Overtime pay is a program in which private businesses or organizations pay for sworn officers to provide security.

The CPO Agency investigation found that in 2018, Drobik was paid $192,973 making him Albuquerque’s highest-paid employee in 2018. The investigation also found that his supervisor was one of the city’s top 11 paid wage earners.

On April 30, 2019, then APD Chief Michael Geier announced that he was not taking any disciplinary action against Simon Drobik but announced changes were being made to APD overtime and Chief’s overtime. At the time APD Chief Michael Geier decided that instead of terminating Drobik, he placed him on administrative assignment and required him to report directly to Deputy Chief of Staff Elizabeth Armijo . Confidential sources have also confirmed that then Chief Geier and the Keller Administration contemplated promoting Simon Drobik to a commander position in order to pay him more as a justification for the pay he was being paid as a spokesman.

In the Friday, October 23, 2020 press release, APD implicated Drobik’s supervisor former Deputy Chief Elizabeth Armijo for failure to approve overtime, implicated former APD Chief Michael Geier and implicated former APD Chief of Staff John Ross. According to APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos, Deputy Chief of Staff Armijo will be disciplined, although he would not say what that discipline will be at the time. He also said that former Chief of Staff John Ross will not be disciplined in that he was relieved of his position when Geier was forced to retired by Keller, otherwise John Ross would have been disciplined.

For successive years, as APD Spokesman, Drobik was routinely among the highest earners in the city and ranked No. 1 among all city employees in 2018 by being paid $192,973. In 2019, Drobik was ranked as the 7th highest wage earner in 2019. When Drobik retired in July 2020, he had already collected $106,607 for the year when his base pay rate was listed as $31.50 per hour, or $65, 520 according city records ( $31.50 per hour X 2,080 hours a year= $65,520).


On June 24, New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colon notified Mayor Tim Keller he had designated the city for a special audit after receiving complaints about police overtime processes and payments, and internal controls within APD. In the June 4 letter to Mayor Tim Keller, State Auditor Brian Colon wrote:

“The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) received allegations raising concerns regarding the practices of the City of Albuquerque (“City”) related to police overtime processes and payments, as well as internal controls. … With respect to these concerns, the OSA hereby designates the City for a special audit in order to examine the City’s compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.”

The link to State Auditor Brian Colon’s letter to Mayor Tim Keller is here:


State Auditor Brian Colón said the IA findings validated his own investigation which he said is ongoing and said:

“My mind is at ease that those resources to do that audit were well-placed, because there is a problem, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it whether it’s an individual or whether it’s further reaching… … It is fair to say that we still have work to do … and it may not be limited to one officer.”

State Attorney General Hector Balderas office is also conducting an investigation into Drobik’s overtime time card practices and providing assistance to the State Auditor’s Office.


The October 23 new release quoted Interim APD Chief Harold Medina as saying:

“This investigation revealed structural problems that failed to hold this officer accountable. … Supervisors should be held to the highest standards. Only then, will we achieve true accountability for taxpayer money. … We’re cleaning up the mess that was left behind and making real changes so that these kinds of wrongdoing don’t happen.”

ABQReport columnist and retired APD SGT. Dan Klein says that Interim Chief Harold Medina, who returned to APD in 2017, is actually part of the mess he says he wants to clean up. Klein had this to say:

“Medina has been deputy chief of police since December 2017; he had to know what was going on with Drobik. … He was there for both investigations . So why didn’t Medina address it before now? He was second in command at APD, it was his responsibility to act, yet Medina will have everyone believe that he knew nothing until now? Medina is either lying or he’s a fool. But he is now chief. God help us.”

The IA investigation covers Drobik’s overtime claims only from this year. But in 2018, Drobik said that he was a consultant and an actor for the movie El Camino, which started filming in Albuquerque in November 2018. The filming lasted nearly 50 days. The movie was released in October 2019.

Klein wants to know if any of the investigations are looking at whether Drobik was paid as an APD officer while working on the film.

“Did APD’s investigation into Drobik ask the question? Did he commit any violations while working for Vince Gilligan on the movie El Camino?” Klein said. “Did Drobik receive pay from city taxpayers for on-duty work, while consulting and appearing in the movie El Camino?”

A link to a related story in ABQ Reports is here:



After the CPOA investigation of Simon Drobik, then APD Chief Geier called for overtime policies to be revamped. Geier ordered then-deputy chief Michael Smathers, now First Deputy Chief, to create a wide-ranging proposal to reduce overtime spending. The proposal included capping each officer’s total number of overtime hours to 25 hour of overtime per week. It also included developing ways for supervisors to identify which officers were working the most overtime and to put a halt to excessive overtime.

APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos said on October 23 that APD has drafted a policy to overhaul overtime practices and it will go through a standard policy review process. According to the APD news release:

“[Interim] Chief Medina said he will issue a Special Order on Monday to take effect immediately while the policy is reviewed. Unlike previous efforts to reform overtime, this proposed policy will address weaknesses in supervision and increase discipline for violations.”


At the end of each calendar year, City Hall releases the top 250 wage earners. The list of 250 top city hall wages earners is what is paid for the full calendar year of January 1, to December 31 of any given year. The City of Albuquerque updated the list for the year 2019.

In 2018, the breakdown of the 250 top paid city hall employees revealed that all were paid between $100,000 to $192,937.23. In 2018, there were 140 Police Officers on the list of 250 top wage earners.

In 2019, the breakdown of the 250 top paid city hall employees showed they were paid between $107,885 to $193,666.23. In 2019 there were 160 sworn APD police in the top 250 wage earners.

The excessive pay numbers in APD, especially to patrol officers, can be attributed directly to overtime paid to APD employees.



Using the words of former APD Sergeant Dan Klein, APD Interim Chief Harold Medina is both a liar and a fool, especially when Medina says:

“This investigation revealed structural problems that failed to hold this officer accountable. … Supervisors should be held to the highest standards. Only then, will we achieve true accountability for taxpayer money. … We’re cleaning up the mess that was left behind and making real changes so that these kinds of wrongdoing don’t happen.”

Mayor Tim Keller should be downright embarrassed over the remarks made by Harold Medina as Interim Chief. During his 23 year career with APD, Harold Medina has been involved in two separate police officer involved shootings. In one shooting, in a church, he shot and killed a 14-year-old boy having a psychotic episode. In the other shooting, then APD Lieutenant Medina authorized the use of deadly force against 26-year-old military veteran holding a gun to his head suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who was threatening to kill himself. Medina has denied that he was the officer in charge at the scene. The APD Commander Michael Geier was on the “use of force” review committee when the veteran was killed and Geier said at the time Medina should have been disciplined, but Medina was not. It’s shameful that Medina would say now “Supervisors should be held to the highest standards” yet Medina himself was never held responsible for his own actions that resulted in two innocent people dead.

There was nothing “left behind” as Medina proclaims. The police overtime abuse has been going on for years. Medina has been part of the very problem for the last full 3 years. Mayor Tim Keller was warned repeatedly about the overtime abuse going on not only with Drobik but within APD itself. On May 29, when former Chief Michael Geier issued a special order capping the amount of regular time and over time that officers can work to 65 hours a week, Keller himself gave his blessing to the plan and even went so far to say it would go a long way to curb the abuse. It did not because it never was fully implemented.

Keller was also warned when State Auditor Brian Colon said “there is a problem, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it whether it’s an individual or whether it’s further reaching.” In other words, Drobik is not the only one the State Auditor and the New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas are looking at for potential criminal charges. What Mayor Tim Keller and his Interim Chief Harold Medina should be very worried about is just how far up the APD chain of command does the criminal activity go. Does it go all the way up to the Chief’s Office command staff or even the Mayor’s Office?

That is not as farfetched as it may seem given that the force resignation of former Chief Geier clearly showed how much micro managing was going on within APD by Mayor Tim Keller and CAO Sarita Nair. It is more likely than not they both knew what was going on with Drobik, and from a management stand point, they could have approved the overtime abuse themselves or at a minimum did nothing to curb it or stop.

New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colon has shown that he understands and appreciates the limitations of his office by asking Attorney General Hector Balderas to assist with the probe of APD for any and all overtime abuse by APD. The authority of the State Auditor is that of performing audits for waste, fraud and abuse involving taxpayer money. However, the State Auditor does not have any authority to prosecute for criminal acts uncovered by the audits and the Auditor’s office needs to rely on the Attorney General or the District Attorneys to bring criminal prosecutions for fraud discovered.

Once the special audit is completed, State Auditor Brian Colon no doubt will be able to smoothly transfer the full audit to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas for possible criminal prosecution. Once the audit is transmitted to Attorney General Balderas, a special grand jury needs to be convened to determine what criminal charges, if any, should be filed.


It’s ironic that the Mayor Tim Keller, the former New Mexico State Auditor who made his name as a “white knight” crusader fighting “waste fraud and abuse” of taxpayer money, and used that reputation to become Mayor, chose to ignore the prior audits of APD overtime abuse. What is even more ironic is that Keller is very much at the mercy of both New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colon and Attorney General Hector Balderas, with the threesome of Keller, Balderas and Colon all having served as State Auditor essentially swapping the job back and forth with each other. The fact that Keller and Colon ran against each other for Mayor is also not lost on anyone in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

No Mayor wants to face the prospect that criminal activity is found within a Police Department they are supposed to oversee and manage, especially a department under a federal court approved settlement agreement brought on for excessive use of force and deadly force and a finding of a “culture of aggression”. No doubt Mayor Tim Keller realizes if APD is hit with indictments of “waste, fraud and abuse” for overtime time fraud, it will likely add a major obstacle to his re-election chances in 2021 along with the skyrocketing violent crime rates Keller promised to bring down when he ran in 2017.

Keller has made it known that he is seeking a second term as Mayor 2021 and he has privately told many that his ultimate goal is to be Governor of New Mexico after he serves 2 terms as Mayor of Albuquerque. Brian Colon is also made it known he is running for Attorney General in 2022 and sources say he is even raising money for the run. If Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is in fact tapped to be a cabinet Secretary under a President Joe Biden as many speculate, Lt. Governor Howie Morales will become Governor. If that happens, Keller, Balderas and perhaps Colon may see the best opportunity to run for Governor in 2022 against a Governor Howie Morales.

Notwithstanding, the paths of the 4 most politically ambitious people in the same age group, and same party who see themselves as “would be governor” and the future of the Democratic party are about to collide, sooner rather than later. It will not be pretty if that indeed happens.

Politically ambitious defense attorney and former Democratic Party State Chairman Sam Bregman who is representing Simon Drobik is also said to be talking about running for New Mexico Attorney General in 2022 against State Auditor Brian Colon. That is a blog article better left for the future.


Links to related news coverage are here:



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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.