Thomas Rodella

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Thomas Rodella, Sr. is a former Rio Arriba County, New Mexico magistrate judge and sheriff. He is married to New Mexico State Representative Debbie Rodella who has represented Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, and Taos Counties (Legislative District 41) in the New Mexico House of Representatives since 1993. [1] Tommy is currently serving his federal prison sentence at Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution, Seagoville, Texas.

Rio Arriba County, New Mexico County in the United States

Rio Arriba County is a county in the U.S. state of New Mexico. As of the 2010 census, the population was 40,246. Its county seat is Tierra Amarilla. Its northern border is the Colorado state line.

Debbie A. Rodella is a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives in which she has served since 1993. A Democrat, she is a native and lifelong resident of Española, New Mexico, and represents Legislative District 41 located in Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, and Taos Counties.

Santa Fe County, New Mexico County in the United States

Santa Fe County is a county in the U.S. state of New Mexico. As of the 2010 census, the population was 144,170, making it New Mexico's third-most populous county, after Bernalillo County and Doña Ana County. Its county seat is Santa Fe, the state capital.

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Law enforcement and political career

Rodella served as a sergeant and investigator in the New Mexico State Police from 1982 to 1995 when he retired on a disability pension. [2] While a state police officer he was disciplined for marijuana use, improper use of a weapon, physical abuse, falsifying official reports, abusing sick leave, using his position for personal gain, and served at least three 30-day suspensions. [3]

New Mexico State Police

The New Mexico State Police is the state police agency for New Mexico, which has jurisdiction anywhere in the state. It was created to protect the lives, property and constitutional rights of people in New Mexico. The State Police is a division within the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

In March, 2005 Rodella was appointed a state magistrate judge by Gov. Bill Richardson but was forced to resign that office the following July after it was revealed that Rodella had hand-delivered an order to release an acquaintance who had been jailed on a charge of drunken driving over the Fourth of July holiday. [3] Rodella subsequently ran for the vacant magistrate judge seat and won the Democratic primary with 24 percent of the votes in a six-way race. [4] Rep. Rodella's campaign fund reports showed that funds contributed to her re-election campaign (in which she ran unopposed) were used to largely fund her husband's campaign. [5]

An investigation by the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission conducted in 2008 concluded that he was guilty of judicial misconduct in three cases that had been before him and recommended his removal from office. [2] Rodella was subsequently removed from office by the New Mexico Supreme Court and prohibited from ever running for judicial office again. Two years later in 2010 Rodella won election to the non-judicial office of sheriff of Rio Arriba County with 25 percent of the vote in a field of eight. He was removed from that position by the Rio Arriba County Commission in October, 2014 after being convicted and imprisoned on multiple Federal civil rights felony counts. [2] [6]

2014 arrest and convictions on Federal civil rights felony charges

On August 15, 2014, Rodella and his 26-year-old son, Thomas, Jr., were arrested by the FBI on a then sealed Federal indictment arising from a March 2014 "road rage" incident in Rio Arriba County charging them with assaulting a motorist, threatening him with a firearm, and filing false charges against him for trying to run him and his son down. [2] [7] All charges against Thomas, Jr., were dropped less than two weeks later, however, under a Government motion made on August 27, 2014 that he had preexisting medical conditions that "could negatively affect his cognitive abilities" thereby "raising a question as to whether he was capable of forming the level of specific intent that is an element of 18 U.S.C. §§241 and 242." [8] [9]

Road rage aggressive or angry behavior by driver

Road rage is aggressive or angry behavior exhibited by a driver of a road vehicle. These behaviors include rude and offensive gestures, verbal insults, physical threats or dangerous driving methods targeted toward another driver or a pedestrian in an effort to intimidate or release frustration. Road rage can lead to altercations, assaults and collisions that result in serious physical injuries or even death. Strategies include long horn honks, swerving, tailgating and attempting to fight the other driver.

After a four-day jury trial held in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico at Albuquerque, Rodella was convicted on September 26, 2014 of both deprivation of civil rights under color of law (18 U.S.C. §241 & §242) and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence (18 U.S.C. §924(c)(1)(A)(ii)), and was immediately remanded pending sentencing facing up to ten years in federal prison on the civil rights counts and a mandatory additional seven years to be served consecutively on the firearms conviction. [10]

By a 3-0 vote on October 2, 2014, the Rio Arriba County Commission removed Rodella as Sheriff and replaced him with James Lujan, a deputy Rodella once fired and who had defeated him in the June, 2014 Democratic primary for that office. [11] Following the conviction, Rodella's attorney said he would appeal the case and filed a Hyde Amendment claim of prosecutorial misconduct. [10]

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References

  1. "Representative Debbie A. Rodella - (D-41)". New Mexico Legislature . Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Terrell, Steve (August 16, 2014). "Rodella's political resilience could falter after FBI arrest". The Santa Fe New Mexican . Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  3. 1 2 "New Magistrate Resigns at Richardson Request " The Albuquerque Journal, July 21, 2005
  4. Salazar, Martin (June 7, 2006). "Rodellas Appear To Win in Rio Arriba". Albuquerque Journal . Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  5. Jones, Jeff (August 5, 2007). "Wife Filled Rodella Coffers". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  6. Vaughn, Jason "New Mexico Sheriff and Son Indicted for Pistol-Whipping Incident" Gawker.com, August 21, 2014
  7. Winter, Michael (August 15, 2014). "N.M. sheriff accused of assaulting motorist". USA Today . Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  8. UNITED STATES' UNOPPOSED MOTION TO DISMISS ALL COUNTS OF THE INDICTMENT AS TO DEFENDANT THOMAS RODELLA, JR. ONLY August 27, 2014
  9. Sandlin, Scott; Stiny, Andrew (August 27, 2014). "Charges against Rio Arriba sheriff's son dismissed; commissioner denies allegations in separate case". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  10. 1 2 Stiny, Andy (September 26, 2014). "Rio Arriba Sheriff Tommy Rodella found guilty on both counts". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  11. "Convicted New Mexico sheriff ousted from job" CBS News, October 2, 2014