This absolutely reeks of criminality:
Albuquerque Public Schools officials are considering firing Police Chief Steve Tellez over allegations that he took – for his personal use – hundreds of dollars worth of ammunition bought by the district’s police department, a district official said Monday.
It would be the second police chief in a row who was let go because of allegations of misconduct.
The APS police department had ordered four boxes of ammunition for assault rifles, although APS police do not use assault rifles, the official said. Two of the boxes, which cost between $400 and $500 each, are missing, the official said.
Tellez has acknowledged to APS administration that he took one of the boxes for personal use with his own weapon, the official said.
We seem to have two related issues here.
Boxes of assault rifle ammunition that “cost between $400 and $500 each” are 1,000-round cases of ammunition, not boxes. They are most likely cases of .223 Remington/5.56 NATO ammunition purchased at a cost of between 40¢ and 50¢ a round.
That’s 4,000 rounds of ammunition and somewhere between $1,600-$2,000 of taxpayer dollars spent to buy ammunition for guns that the APS police department doesn’t need and can’t use since they do not use rifles. So we’re looking at the acquisition of ammunition that the APS doesn’t and cannot need. I’m neither a lawyer nor in APS human resources, but I’m fairly sure that this violates policy for misappropriation of funds.
The second part of the equation is the disappearance of $800-$1,000 worth of that ammunition, which would seem to constitute theft of already misappropriated ammunition. Tellez has apparently admitted to taking half of that, or $400-$500 worth.
According to a New Mexico law, this is Larceny:
A. Larceny consists of the stealing of anything of value that belongs to another.
D. Whoever commits larceny when the value of the property stolen is over five hundred dollars ($500) but not more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) is guilty of a fourth degree felony.
It seems that Tellez has already confessed to larceny charge, and that he could face additional charges for acquiring the 4,000 rounds of ammunition under false pretenses.
If I were Superintendent Winston Brooks, Tellez’s firing would be a foregone conclusion. The only question I would have is which criminal charges are most appropriate for a police chief that abused his position and apparently admitted to breaking the law.
Photo credits: ched-macquigg.blogspot.com
Update: For some reason, I cited Arizona statues instead of New Mexico statutes. Corrected.