Deputy Charged with Tampering with Evidence
Las Cruces (NM) – Vincent Lopez worked with the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office from October of 2003 until September of 2014. During that time he had worked as a criminal investigator; however, he had enough problems with getting his work done that he was in the process of being terminated when he resigned instead.
In May, the Sheriff’s Office found out just how poorly he had done his work. Lopez had vacated a house that had gone into foreclosure. A cleaning crew was working on the house when they found items that alarmed them. Items that were listed as evidence and paperwork that was obviously police paperwork. In total, 72 pieces of evidence where retrieved, by the Sheriff’s Office, from Lopez’s old house. That evidence included weapons, bloody clothing, rape swab evidence and more.
According to the Las Cruces Sun News,
“Evidence found in Lopez’s home included evidence from a 2009 child rape case, a 2011 criminal sexual contact of a minor case, a 2012 criminal sexual contact of a minor case, a 2012 aggravated battery that may cause death or great bodily harm case, a 2013 residential burglary and criminal damage to property case, a 2013 aggravated battery with a deadly weapon case, a 2013 rape and kidnapping case and two 2013 aggravated burglary cases.”
Cases Can’t Be Prosecuted
A lot of those cases cannot be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations but even if some can be, a defense attorney will easily be able to discount the evidence since it was never officially turned in and no chain of custody can be established. In other words, a defense attorney will say there is no way to prove the evidence hasn’t been tampered with. There was even a robbery case that had to be dismissed because Lopez had written in his report that $107 had been taken into evidence but that money evidence was not found leaving the prosecution unable to move forward on the case. The money wasn’t found in the evidence that was gathered from the home, either.
In addition, officers saw ashes in a fireplace with evidence nearby. This caused concerns that some of the evidence may have been burned. While the officers were at the house, Lopez showed up saying he had been trying to get some of his property out of the house, but when questioned about the evidence that was found, Lopez claimed it wasn’t his even though some boxes had had his name on them and they were cases he had been assigned to work.
54-year old Vincent Lopez was arrested on Thursday. He was booked into the Doña Ana County Detention Center on “nine counts of tampering with public records and nine counts of tampering with evidence.” He was not given a bond amount so he’ll have to remain in jail for now. I highly recommend reading the article from the Las Cruces Sun News for fuller details.
And you can watch the KRQE news video below and read their article here.