For Immediate Release:
December 8, 2022
Contact: Jerri Mares – (505) 321-4372
RESERVE — Today, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announces the filing of an Information alleging ten felony counts against former Catron County Sheriff, Ian Fletcher, related to misusing federal funds in the aftermath of the Buzzard Fire in May of 2018. Catron County entered into a cooperative law enforcement agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the United States Forest Service (USFS), to provide law enforcement assistance during this fire. Fletcher is alleged to have embezzled USFS funds intended to reimburse the county for this assistance and alleged to have laundered the money through unauthorized bank accounts.
“Those who wear the law-enforcement badge are sworn to uphold the rule of law and must be held accountable when that public trust is broken,” said Attorney General Balderas.
In November of 2018, the USDA paid over $39,000 in funds to the county as reimbursement for county resources used to combat the fire. Fletcher took this money for his own personal use, gradually withdrawing the funds in structured cash withdrawals to avoid banking reporting requirements. Furthermore, Fletcher claimed hundreds of hours of overtime while in office to supplement his salary, despite being the elected sheriff and not being entitled to additional pay without legislative approval.
This case was investigated by the NM Attorney General Special Investigations Division and is being prosecuted by Deputy Director of Prosecutions Mark Probasco and Assistant Attorney General Andrew Coffing.
The Information filing is attached.