Governor threatened


The man who allegedly threatened to kill Gov. Susana Martinez is scheduled to appear in Santa Fe District Court on Oct. 10 following an arraignment last week where he pleaded not guilty to telephone harassment charges.

Scott Darnell, a spokesman for the governor's office, said James Sanchez, 60, of Tierra Grande, "physically threatened the lives of a staff member and the governor," and has been to the governor's Santa Fe office on multiple occasions.

Darnell said Sanchez has made threatening phone calls since March.

Sanchez's attorney, Thomas Esquibel, said his client, a Vietnam veteran, never threatened to kill the governor and instead stated he "would do something worse to her than what he did to women and babies in Vietnam."

Esquibel said the governor's head of security filed charges in June in Santa Fe Magistrate Court alleging Sanchez made several harassing calls to the governor's office.

The alleged harassment is a violation of his conditions of release ordered by Magistrate Jim Naranjo on June 27. Sanchez is being held on a $100,000 cash-only bond.

Esquibel said his client, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, has a history of "demanding" calls to the governor's office.

"This is a fine thank you that we are giving this veteran," Esquibel said. "Instead of thanking him for his service, they are doing everything to keep him behind bars."

Sanchez has paid for newspaper advertisements where he claimed the governor "has sided with wealthy cattle producers who let their cattle run loose on the public right-of-ways" in Tierra Grande.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, State Department of Public Safety Secretary Gordon Eden said the statements on the calls, including one in which he says a staffer "better sleep with one eye open" and that "we're coming for you," were taken seriously, even though Eden didn't know if Sanchez possesses weapons.

The Journal reported he has also allegedly made threats against the staff of the state Livestock Board.

Sanchez faces five misdemeanor counts of using a telephone to make threats, including three charges in which the threats are said to have been directed specifically at the governor.

Court records indicate that he was originally charged in March, but he was released on bond. He was arrested again after being accused of violating conditions of his release for making more calls to the governor's office on Aug. 28. He has been incarcerated since Aug. 31, according to jail records.

In an July interview with El Defensor Chieftain, Sanchez said he has been frustrated with cattle in the area of a subdivision in which he owned land. He said the animals were not supposed to be there and are endangering people and animals in the area.

Sanchez claimed the issue has been ongoing with several cattle owners over several years.

He said a man had promised to have the cows out by this past April.

"Then I went to the governor's office and they said there was nothing they could do," Sanchez said.

He said he emailed the New Mexico Livestock Board, and that New Mexico State Police "would do nothing" to help.

His rationalization for his numerous contacts with the governor's office was that she was in charge of those entities, specifically the New Mexico State Police, and so should be able to enforce the rule about cattle being fenced.

"They serve at the pleasure of the governor and they don't enforce the law, she is not enforcing the law," Sanchez said.

He talked about an encounter with a cattle owner where the owner had told Sanchez the land was not posted and Sanchez pointed out where it actually was posted.

He said he had told the governor she couldn't be elected dog catcher in Juarez, referring to her career and getting elected again, and "I'm going to (expletive) you up."

Sanchez said he was chasing the cows off the road with his cow dogs when another man pulled up in front of him.

"He got angry because I was chasing his cows," Sanchez said.

"I took off and he followed. He rammed me from the driver's side, my truck went off the road. I got back on the road. I was running from him and he rammed me from the back."

Because of the above encounter, according to police reports, Sanchez is currently facing three aggravated battery felony charges and a criminal damage to property charge in Socorro County. According to the report, the cattle owner, Luke Woelber, claimed it was Sanchez who tried to run Woelber off the road.

Esquibel said his client needs rehabilitation for post-traumatic stress disorder.

"James needs treatment," Esquibel said, "not incarceration."

El Defensor Chieftain Editor Elva Osterreich contributed to this story.

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