Former deputy enters guilty pleas
Former Socorro County Sheriff’s Deputy Shawn Baca has pleaded guilty to three charges stemming from complaints that he took advantage of his law enforcement position to coerce young female drivers into sexual favors.
Under the terms of a plea agreement accepted in 7th Judicial District Court by Judge Edmund “Ted” Kase on Wednesday, Baca will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He is also facing up to 12 years incarceration and $15,000 in fines.
Baca pleaded guilty to one third-degree count of criminal sexual contact with a minor, bargained down from a second-degree felony offense. He also pleaded guilty to two third-degree felony counts of extortion or in the alternative of demanding or receiving a bribe.
In exchange for those guilty pleas, seven of the 10 counts filed against him last June, including three charges of kidnapping, one of demanding or receiving a bribe, one of tampering with evidence and two of attempting to commit a felony, have been dropped.
Three complaints made against Baca last February and March resulted in him being placed on administrative leave from his law enforcement job with the county last March 24.
According to the affidavit for arrest and probable cause statement, the first victim, who was traveling with her 2-year-old son, said Baca stopped her for speeding, told her there were traffic warrants for her arrest, and offered to “work something out” if she would “pull down her pants and show him her buttocks.” The second victim, a minor who said she was also told she’d been stopped for speeding, said she was made to exit her vehicle and bend over while Baca touched her underwear. The third victim said she was told to pull up her shirt and bra while Baca took a picture on his cellphone.
Baca was arrested last May 17 and held in Sierra County on a $500,000 bond. He was released in July, effectively confined to house arrest and ordered to have no contact with any victims or witnesses in the case.
By signing the plea agreement and pleading guilty to the three felony charges, Baca gave up his right to a jury trial, which had been scheduled for March 5.
Judge Kase asked Baca’s attorney, Lee Deschamps, if he felt the plea agreement was in his client’s best interest.
“All things considered, I think it’s his best option,” Deschamps said.
Sentencing is scheduled for Friday, April 13. Torrance County Deputy District Attorney Tim Cornish made no objection to Baca being allowed to await sentencing under the same conditions he’s been subject to since his release from jail last July.
“He’s not considered a flight risk in the short term, and he’s not considered at high risk for recidivism in the short term,” Cornish said.
If Baca is incarcerated, Kase said he would be subject to an indeterminate period of parole of no less than five years and possibly up to the rest of his natural life, upon release. While in prison, due to the nature of the crime, he would only be able to earn four days per month in meritorious good time deductions and would therefore have to serve 85 percent of time the court imposed.
If Baca is placed on probation, Kase said it would be for an indeterminate period of not less than five and not more than 20 years.
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