The Public Defender's Office Will Ask a Judge to Halt the Reverse Sting Operations
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKIThe New Mexico Public Defender's Office will ask a judge Thursday to quash an affidavit and court order that allows the Albuquerque Police Department to take illegal drugs out of its evidence room and sell them to people in reverse sting operations. Richard Pugh, district public defender of the Second Judicial District, said he hopes to have the motion to vacate the Feb. 23 “Reversal operation” order filed before noon. The motion will be filed in state District Court in Albuquerque. The motion will argue that the affidavit requesting the order to allow APD to take two pounds of cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines out of its evidence room to sell to the public contained false information. The Feb. 23 affidavit said the document was being presented “through its Assistant District Attorney.” But no ADA signed or initialed the affidavit. On Wednesday, Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said her office never signed off on the affidavit and was never consulted by APD about it. If the order is vacated, it would stop, at least for now, the reverse sting operations. And it could potentially lead to dismissal of fourth-degree felony charges that have been filed against at least seven people who have been arrested for drug possession so far in the reverse sting operations. Presenting false information in an affidavit is grounds to have the order that was based on it dismissed, Pugh said. “Due process calls for the judge to vacate the order. That has been part of American jurisprudence for hundreds of years.” Brandenburg told ABQ Free Press on Wednesday that her office never signed off on the affidavit to support the stings, and was never consulted by APD officers about it. “We have confirmed that our office did not sign off on, or consult the police department on the affidavit and order of February 25th,” Brandenburg said. Brandenburg added that drug cases being prosecuted under the reverse sting operation authorized by the affidavit could now be challenged because the affidavit isn't true. “It certainly gives lie for challenge that the affidavit is untrue, that it has information that is inaccurate, and therefore, isn't valid.” Brandenburg said.
The Public Defender: Quash APD’s Reverse Stings is republished from www.freeabq.com