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 represented Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, and Taos Counties (Legislative District 41) in the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1993-2018. [1] Rodella is currently serving his federal prison sentence at Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution, Seagoville, Texas.

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]

In March, 2005 Rodella was appointed a state magistrate judge by Governor Bill Richardson but was forced to resign 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 drunk driving. [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 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 the position by the Rio Arriba County Commission in October of 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation 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. [2] [7] All charges against Thomas, Jr, were dropped less than two weeks later.

After a four-day jury trial held in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico in 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. [8]

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. [9] Following the conviction, Rodella's attorney said he would appeal the case and filed a Hyde Amendment claim of prosecutorial misconduct. [8]

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  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", August 21, 2014
  7. Winter, Michael (August 15, 2014). "N.M. sheriff accused of assaulting motorist". USA Today . Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  8. 1 2 Stiny, Andy (September 26, 2014). "Rio Arriba Sheriff Tommy Rodella found guilty on both counts". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  9. "Convicted New Mexico sheriff ousted from job" CBS News, October 2, 2014