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Former Catron County Sheriff charged with alleged misuse of federal funds

By Vince Rodriguez

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    CATRON COUNTY, New Mexico (KOAT) — The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office has filed 10 felony counts against a former New Mexico Sheriff for allegedly misusing federal funds intended to help in the aftermath of wildfires.

According to the attorney general’s office, Catron County entered into a law enforcement agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Forest Service to assist the agencies during the Buzzard Fire in 2018.

The attorney general’s office says former Catron County Sheriff Ian Fletcher allegedly embezzled funds that were intended to reimburse the county for law enforcement assistance. The attorney general’s office says Fletcher allegedly laundered the money through unauthorized bank accounts.

The USDA paid over $39,000 to Catron County to reimburse the county for resources that were used to combat the fire. The attorney general’s office alleges Fletcher took the money for his personal use, withdrawing funds over time to avoid bank reporting requirements. The office also alleges Fletcher claimed hundreds of hours of overtime to supplement his salary while in office as sheriff. The AG’s office says the elected sheriff was not entitled to additional pay without legislative approval.

Fletcher faces charges of embezzlement, money laundering, misuse of public money and engaging in official acts for personal gain.

A court date for Fletcher has not been set.

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