Embattled former Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano tells SFR that special prosecutor Matt Chandler is taking special measures in his case to make a bigger spectacle of it.
Solano was arrested at 2 p.m. yesterday and released from Santa Fe County Detention Center three hours later, after posting $25,000 bail. Solano says defendants in embezzlement cases are typically served with a criminal summons, rather than arrested on a warrant.
"If you look around in Santa Fe on embezzlement cases you will not find warrants," Solano says. "In fact, talk to officers, ask them how hard it is to get a warrant for burglars, for people who are committing crimes where there's much more violence. The DA's office won't even approve them for most things like that."
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Dow, who has prosecuted white collar crimes, says whether or not an arrest warrant is issued depends on the facts of the particular case.
"There are so many different factors that go into that that it's hard to say there's just one procedure," Dow says. "I've been aware of people who've been arrested and then the charges get dismissed and we do an indictment, sometimes there's an arrest warrant, sometimes there's a summons after the grand jury...in general I can say it would be the nature of the charges and evidence and the factors that are set out in the rules on conditions of release. Each case has to be evaluated on its facts."
Dow said whether or not the individual is a flight risk is one factor that would be taken into consideration. According to the state statute Dow is referring to, other considerations include whether the charges the individual faces are violent or involve narcotics, the weight of evidence against him or her, the person's ties to the community, his or her criminal history and history with drugs and alcohol, and whether he or she poses a danger to the community.
Chandler has not returned a call for comment this morning. In his presentation yesterday to local print and TV media, Chandler said he followed the procedure typical of his jurisdiction, the 9th Judicial District.
"In the jurisdiction in which I practice it's custom to serve arrest warrants on individuals that break the law," Chandler said. "Mr. Solano will not be treated any differently than any other citizen that has allegedly broke the law in New Mexico...a summons was not an option."
Solano says Chandler, who unsuccessfully ran for Attorney General last year, is making political hay out of his case.
"I think he's trying to make a career off my case," Solano says. "And I don't think that's fair....I think he wanted to make a statement of, 'Oh, I put a sheriff in jail.'"
At the press conference Chandler arranged to follow Solano's arrest yesterday, he made this statement about the larger significance of Solano's arrest:
"We do not take enjoyment in today's arrest, but if law enforcement officers are not held accountable just as any other citizen in New Mexico, then the laws of our state mean nothing."
Solano also was adamant that the money he is alleged to have gotten by selling county property did not go to feed a gambling habit.
"That money was not used for gambling," he says.