Sixth APD Officer Implicated In APD Bribery And Conspiracy Scandal To Dismiss DWI Cases Resigns; Mayor Keller and Chief Medina Refuse To Take Any Responsibility For Scandal

On May 2, it was announced by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) that a 6th APD Police Officer who  is under investigation for his part into the APD Bribery and Conspiracy Corruption scandal for the dismissal of DWI cases has resigned. APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos announced that Daren De Aguero elected to “retire” after being told he was the target of an investigation by APD’s Internal Affairs and would be interviewed the same day.   DeAguero  joined APD in 2009 as a lateral hire and served in the DWI Unit from 2014-2018.

According to APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos, although DeAguero said he was retiring in his resignation letter, he did not file the appropriate paper work required to retire.  APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos said this:

“Investigators scheduled an interview …  but they were notified that DeAguero submitted his paperwork to retire.  … [DeAguero] characterized his separation from the city as a retirement [but he]  did not follow the process for retiring.”

Daren DeAguero is a former long-time Albuquerque police spokesperson. In his letter of resignation to Chief Harold Medina, DeAguero expressed his gratitude for the opportunities he received during his tenure and explained why he chose to leave the department by saying this in his letter:

“Due to the current situation of receiving a letter of investigation with very limited time to obtain adequate representation to proceed, I unfortunately will be ending my employment from the Albuquerque Police Department effective April 30, 2024.”

DeAguero is the 6th  APD officer to resign or retire because of the investigation. The other officers to resign are Honorio Alba, Harvey Johnson, Nelson Ortiz, Lt. Justin Hunt, and Joshua Montaño. Two other APD officers, both members of the Internal Affairs Division, are under investigation but still with the department. APD Commander Mark Landavazo is on administrative leave and an APD Lieutenant who has not been publicly identified was transferred to another unit. The internal affairs investigation  is being led by Commander Kyle Hartsock.  When a final report is completed it will be submitted to the Superintendent of Police Reform Eric Garcia. None one has been charged as yet in connection with the federal investigation.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller issued the following statement in reaction to APD’s update on the DWI investigation:

“The people of Albuquerque deserve to have trust that the criminal justice system is working to stop drunk driving. These allegations of corruption between officers and defense attorneys are a betrayal to the people that police officers are sworn to protect and a betrayal to their fellow officers who put their lives on the line every day for our families.   As we await the FBI’s complete investigation, we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure no stone is left unturned.”

Links to quoted and relied upon news sources are here:


It was on Friday January 19  that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executed search warrants and raided the homes of 3 Albuquerque Police officers and the home and law office of prominent DWI criminal defense attorney Thomas Clear, III.  All 6 are allegedly involved in a bribery and conspiracy scheme spanning a decade to dismiss DWI cases. Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman ordered the dismissed 196 DWI cases because of the scandal due to the main witnesses’ credibility being called into question which in all the cases are APD officers.  The Albuquerque Police Department has opened its own Internal Affairs investigation of the 6 APD officers.

6 APD Police officers implicated in the scandal have now resigned during the Internal Affairs investigation. The names and dates of the 6 resignations are:

  • On February 7, 2024 Justin Hunt, who started at APD in 2000, resigned.
  • On February 29, 2024, Honorio Alba, who started at APD in 2014, resigned.
  • On March 13, 2024, Harvey Johnson, who started at APD in 2014, resigned
  • On March 15, 2024, Nelson Ortiz, who started at APD in 2016, resigned.
  • On March 20, 2024 Joshua Montaño, who started at APD January 2005, resigned.
  • On May 2, 2024 Daren DeAguero, who started with APD in 2009, resigned.

The FBI searched the homes of Alba and Johnson and the law offices of Thomas Clear III and the home of Clear’s paralegal Ricardo “Rick” Mendez.    The US Department of Justice and US Attorney’s office have confirmed the APD police officers and the criminal defense attorney are at the center of the  federal investigation involving the dismissal of hundreds of pending DWI criminal cases by the APD Officers for  remuneration to have the cases dismissed by the officers failing to appear for hearings. No one has yet to be charged as the federal investigation is ongoing.


It was on March 20 that it was announced that Joshua Montaño, the most high profile of the 5 police officers implicated in the scandal resigned. Montaño is an 18-year veteran of the department having joined APD in January 2005 and served on the DWI unit since 2015. Montaño quit days after being asked to give a statement and be interviewed by APD Internal Affairs for the investigation triggered by allegations of corruption within the DWI unit in the past decade.

The letter of resignation was sent to Police Reform Superintendent Eric Garcia on March 20.  Montaño’s resignation letter was released by APD to the news media. Montaño resignation is decidedly different from the resignations of the others in that he wrote the letter of resignation giving great detail and it was then released to the press. Montaño and his defense attorney Thomas Grover in the Internal Affairs Investigation then gave interviews.

In the first segment of his resignation letter, Montaño gets very emotional and talks about how he fell in love” with APD, risked his life “on numerous occasions” and did “great and amazing things” for his community as a police officer.  Montaño wrote he was “all but abandoned” by APD after he was seriously injured in a car crash with a drunken driver in 2022. He wrote that he then found “comfort and support” from his fellow officers in APD’s DWI Unit. Montaño wrote “They were my family because they cared for me when others didn’t and they supported me when others wouldn’t. … However, that support came with a high price and on January 18, 2024, I found out what the cost of that support really meant.” January 18, 2024 was when the FBI raided the homes of the 3 police officers.

The most damning portions of Montaño’s resignation letter are as follows:

“When I was put on administrative leave, I thought there would be an opportunity for me to talk to the department about what I knew regarding the FBI’s investigation. I thought there would be a time where I could disclose what I knew from within APD and how the issues I let myself get caught up in within the DWI Unit were generational. I thought there would be a time where I could talk about all the other people who should be on administrative leave as well, but aren’t.

That opportunity was denied to me though. As I know my lawyer has explained in all his letters to the City, in order for me to talk to the City about what I knew, I needed to not be the City’s scapegoat for its own failures. Instead, Chief Medina has made it seem like there are just a few bad officers acting on their own. This is far from the truth. None of allegations against myself or others in the DWI Unit happened without supervisory knowledge. And they didn’t just happen over a few years ago. From my time as a P2/C, officers all know that our attendance, or non-attendance, at Court is watched over and monitored.

I take responsibility for my actions. However, APD’s investigations of me have been unfair, and because of Chief Medina’s public statements, the outcome of these investigations is already set. Therefore, I have no choice but to hereby resign from my position with APD. As I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, I fell in love with this department nearly19 years ago and this is such a difficult moment for me. I do not waive any of my earned and accrued sick, vacation, or comp time and respectfully request that I be out-processed as any other employee would be upon resigning from the department.”

Private Attorney Thomas Grover, who is a retired former APD Officer, is representing Joshua Montaño in his defense in the Internal Affairs Investigation. Grover is not representing Montaño in the federal criminal investigation.  In an interview with the Albuquerque Journal done after the release of his client’s letter of resignation, Grover had this to say:

[The resignation letter shows the conduct] didn’t happen within a cell or a silo. … [My client’s decision not to give a statement to Internal Affairs when requested was]… absolutely not … [an admission of wrongdoing].  … My advice, my counsel, was, ‘You can’t give a statement. It’s patently unfair and inappropriate.’ … [APD’s Internal Affairs  inquiry was] inept because there was so much sloppiness in how they …  were issuing target letters. … Because of various defects in the city’s investigation, he was left with no choice but to resign. … Nothing that I’m saying discounts the expectations that the public has of police officers, but there’s even greater expectations of the agencies and departments that lead those officers to do proper and effective Internal Affairs investigations.”


Mayor Keller and Chief Medina have made more than a few stunning admissions throughout this sordid APD corruption scandal and they seem joined at the hip. They admit that the APD bribery and conspiracy scheme to dismiss DWI cases went on the entire 6 years they have been in charge of APD, but they never detected what was going on.

Both admitted that only after they found out the FBI was investigating APD the decision was made to initiate a city criminal and internal affairs investigation and to proclaim cooperation with the FBI. Medina admitted that he knew about the corruption as far back as December 2022 when APD first got a complaint related to the department’s DWI unit in December 2022, yet he waited and essentially did nothing for a full year.

Keller’s admissions come from a person who was first elected as the “white knight” state auditor who stopped “waste, fraud and abuse” and held people accountable for government corruption. Medina’s admissions come from a chief who claims he has never looked the other way at police corruption. Keller and Medina  have looked the other way on documented corruption involving overtime pay abuses by police officers. There have been seven audits in eight years documenting the corruption, waste, fraud and abuse in police overtime.  One of those audits was done by none other than New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller.

Chief Medina went so far as to blame the Bernalillo District Attorney’s Office for a failure to advise APD when officers did not appear for court. Medina also  accused the Public Defender’s Office of being aware of complaints that Public Defender Board of Director member Tom Clear, III was involved with nefarious conduct and that the Public Defender’s Office did nothing.


There is absolutely no doubt that APD’s reputation has been trashed to a major extent because of this scandal. APD will likely be viewed by many as again having just another bastion of “dirty and corrupt cops” who have brought dishonor to their department and to the department’s professed values of “Pride, Integrity, Fairness and Respect”.  This is so even before any charges have been filed against anyone, before any one is fired from APD and before any action is brought against the police officers involved for government corruption and criminal conspiracy to dismiss cases working with a prominent criminal defense attorney. Should the criminal defense attorney be charged and convicted of the crimes, he is likely facing jail time in prison as well as disbarment from the practice of law.

There is little doubt that this whole DWI dismissal bribery scandal has shaken the public’s faith in our criminal justice system. The only way that any semblance of faith can be restored and for people to begin trusting APD again is if all the police officers involved in this scandal are held accountable, the lawyers involved are held accountable.  That will only happen when there is aggressive prosecutions and convictions, the police officers are terminated and they lose their law enforcement certification and disbarment occurs with the attorney.

Ultimately, it is Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Harold Medina who need to be held accountable with what has happened. Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Harold Medina must ultimately be held accountable and take full responsibility for failed leadership of APD and this most egregious  APD scandal.  Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Harold Medina instead have been in full fledge “politcal spin cycle” of “pivot, deflect and blame” since the news broke and since the Albuquerque City Council accused them of failed leadership in dealing with the scandal as they attempt to get ahead of this most recent scandal involving APD.  They both have attempted to take credit for the investigation and for taking action to hold bad cops accountable for the corruption when it was in fact the federal investigation that forced their hand and after they both allowed the problem to fester for 6 years.

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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.