ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The two women cited for stealing scrapbooks from a senior center appeared in court Thursday. The women were also banned from the senior center in a scandal involving their Mayor. Now, the ladies have lawyered up, and they plan on fighting their criminal charges.
Doris Lark, 71, and her friend Floy Watson, 74, appeared in metro court Thursday. The two women plead not guilty to larceny charges.
They’re accused of stealing scrapbooks from the Tijeras Senior Center that Lark said she made with materials she paid for.
“Doris Lark and Floy Watson are entirely innocent of these charges,” said their attorney, Terri Keller.
“You are not to return to the location of the alleged incident,” said Judge Victor Valdez, as part of their conditions of release. The Village banned Lark and Watson from their normal hangout, and Thursday the judge upheld it.
Tijeras Mayor Gloria Chavez and the Village Attorney previously sent the women letters accusing them of stealing the scrapbooks and demanded they be returned.
When the women refused to return the books, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies cited them. A deputy also cited Watson for trespassing and told her to leave the senior center.
Lark and Watson believe this is retaliation from the Mayor after they took to a local newspaper to question the Village’s decision to cut the senior center’s hours in half last year.
“Now my understanding is the Mayor has been there for a long time and doesn’t appreciate the editorials that have been written against her,” said Keller. “That’s part of being a public servant is that you get the good and bad and hopefully, you listen.”
When deputies charged the women, the incident report listed the scrapbook values as zero.
Lark and Watson’s attorney said they plan on demanding evidence from the Village of Tijeras that the Village has any ownership over the scrapbooks, and she doesn’t believe they’ll be able to.
“I really don’t, that’s what I think is actually extremely troubling, and every person that lives in the Village of Tijeras should be concerned that these charges can be trumped up,” explained Keller.
Mayor Chavez and the Village Attorney have dodged phone calls from KRQE News 13 for two weeks, so News 13 paid the Mayor a visit in her office Thursday. A secretary said the mayor wasn’t in and didn’t expect to see her all day.
What used to be a source of only good memories, has now become a source of heartbreak for Lark and Watson.
“The senior age is a vulnerable population and this is like a second home to them, this is socialization, this is their second family,” explained Keller. For now, Watson and Lark will lean on each other.
The District Attorney’s office told News 13 they have nothing to do with this type of misdemeanor case, that it’s all in the hands of the charging agency, which is the Sheriff’s Department in this case.
A Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson told News 13 they’re going ahead with this case.
Lark and Watson’s attorney said they look forward to getting the charges dismissed. She won’t say if the women are looking at suing.