March 15, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Roswell, NM – Fifth Judicial District Court Judge Jane Shuler-Gray found former Chaves County Sheriff’s Deputy James E. Johnson guilty of five felony counts of receiving public money for services not rendered following a bench trial yesterday afternoon in Roswell.
In 2021, an internal affairs investigation revealed that on multiple occasions, Johnson submitted false timesheets and received payment for overtime hours he did not actually work. A GPS unit in Johnson’s patrol vehicle contradicted the hours Johnson reported on his timesheet and showed that on at least one occasion, Johnson took an unauthorized trip to Las Cruces in his county-issued patrol vehicle.
Johnson testified at trial and admitted to repeated inaccuracies in his daily time sheets. He had no explanation for why he would delay inmate transports—often by hours—unnecessarily prolonging the time that inmates spent in holding cells awaiting court-ordered transportation.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 2, 2023, where Johnson could face up to 7.5 years in prison as these charges are all fourth degree felonies.
“Public officials should be aware that no one is above the law,” said New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez. “It is our duty as public servants to ensure we are abiding by all laws and procedures within our departments to better serve our communities and represent them with the utmost integrity. I thank Judge Shuler-Gray and our prosecution team for their hard work on this case.”
Assistant Attorney General Jesse Pecoraro and Deputy Attorney General Mark Probasco prosecuted the case at trial.