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Charges dismissed against ex-police official in NM

Tuesday - 10/29/2013, 2:40pm  ET

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) -- A judge has dismissed bribery and conspiracy charges against a former interim police chief of a troubled New Mexico border town, citing indictment errors.

District Judge Darren Kugler threw out the case against Luis Monarez of Sunland Park on Monday, The Las Cruces Sun-News reported (http://bit.ly/194EVd1 ).

The defense sought the dismissal, citing a typographical error and a lack of specifics to back the charges. Prosecutors acknowledged the charges were flawed.

The charges had accused Monarez of obtaining the position of interim chief in exchange for getting his sister to not run against another candidate in a City Council race.

"It's a relief," said Monarez, 44, standing next to his wife outside a courtroom at 3rd Judicial District Court. "Finally it's over. As always, I do believe in the justice system. Sadly, I was indicted and it's just a long process."

Monarez was arrested in March 2012 after the town's mayor-elect and several other officials were charged in a series of criminal cases that resulted from an investigation into allegations the ex-mayor-elect arranged to have his opponent recorded getting a topless lap dance to try to force him from the race.

The investigation led to widespread indictments on election fraud and other charges.

Monarez had been previously fired from Sunland Park Police after an investigation into allegations that he supplied alcohol to youths during an off-duty event.

Monarez also served as a firefighter and police officer in Alamogordo. He said he hopes to return and is in the process of clearing his name with the state police academy, he said.

"It's what I've done. It's what I know. It's what I want to do," he said.


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