SANTA FE (KRQE) – A judge has granted a state representative’s request for a temporary restraining order against a Senate security guard.
That restraining order bars former state cop and Rio Arriba Sheriff’s deputy Algin Mendez from being within 100 yards of the Roundhouse.
Mendez was fired from his job as a state cop for failing to take a report from a domestic violence victim. He then quit his job as a Rio Arriba deputy before he could be fired after he was caught on surveillance camera head-butting people at a casino.
Sheriff Tommy Rodella was key in forcing Mendez out. Rodella’s wife is Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Espanola.
Despite that past, Mendez was hired as a Senate security guard for this session. Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Espanola, was listed as one of his references.
In an application for a temporary restraining order, Rodella expressed concern about Mendez.
“Mr. Mendez has made repeated verbal threats against me and my family to cause physical harm,” wrote Rodella. “I have been compelled to require someone from our security and/or another [representative] escort me to my vehicle.”
Rodella says the most recent threat happened in October at a hotel in Espanola after an interim committee meeting when Mendez “accosted” her and her husband. Then last week at a committee meeting at the Roundhouse, Rodella alleges Mendez stared her down.
Wednesday afternoon, District Judge Sheri Raphaelson granted Rodella’s request for a temporary restraining order. That order bars Mendez from being within 100 yards of Rodella or her place of work.
Senate Sergeant-at-arms David Pacheco, Mendez’s boss, says Mendez called in sick to work Thursday and won’t be back at the Roundhouse until after the case is heard by Raphaelson on February 10.
Pacheco says Mendez will not be paid while he is off the job.
Some lawmakers and the governor are asking whether the hiring process for the men and women who protect lawmakers needs to be more thorough.
Senate majority leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, says they’ll look at getting more information about applicants in the future.
“I’m not sure what their process is for, you know, looking at their backgrounds, calling their previous employers, finding out exactly what kind of background they’ve had, why they left their previous job,” Gov. Susana Martinez said. “But they should.”