Criminal charges may follow APS police chief firing

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — He’s lost his job as the Albuquerque Public Schools police chief, now he could face criminal charges.

APS announced Friday that the district has fired Chief Steve Tellez. While they won’t say anything about why Tellez was fired, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department confirmed today, Tellez is being investigated in regards to missing firearms ammunition.

The firing comes nearly three weeks after Tellez was put on paid leave. By the end of next week, the BCSD officials say the investigation should be wrapped and charges could be filed.

“You have to sit back and look at what’s best for the district,” said Winston Brooks, superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools.

The firing ends Tellez’s 10 year career with the APS Police Department. Tellez joined the department in 2004, then became chief in 2010.

In an interview about the firing Monday morning, Brooks said Tellez received his termination notice on Wednesday but the firing became effective on Friday. But that’s not the only element, according to APS.

“It’s a criminal investigation at this point,” said Brooks.

Tellez could now face criminal charges as a result of what happened. While the school district still isn’t talking about why Tellez is being investigated, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department is.

“The investigation is centered around some missing ammunition,” said Sergeant Aaron Williamson, a spokesman for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department.

The sheriff’s department says it won’t comment on specifics right now because it’s still investigating.

“Investigators are still doing interviews and reviewing the information that was discovered during the administrative investigation and looking to see what if any criminal charges should be filed,” said Sgt. Williamson.

KRQE News 13 has learned that Tellez is accused of taking a case of ammo from an APS police storage room. Sources tell News 13 that Tellez is one of the only people with a key.

“We’re hoping to have the investigation completed towards the end of next week,” said Sgt. Williamson.

As the district waits for the results of that investigation, Brooks says the termination was a difficult decision.

“I think he’s well-liked by the board myself, many of the staff, but terminations are not easy, any termination is not easy,” said Brooks.

News 13 reached out to Tellez’s attorney Friday for comment on the firing but didn’t hear back.

APS says its police department’s deputy chief Steve Gallegos will serve as interim chief until they find a permanent replacement. So far, there’s no timeline on how long that will take.

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