CHIMAYO, N.M. (KRQE) – It was supposed to be a celebration at La Arboleda Community Center in Chimayo earlier this month, but the decorations went up hours late. Food started to spoil in the car and the cake started to melt, according to the woman organizing a baby shower for her best friend.
She arrived to see another family setting up for their baby shower.
“They were pretty upset too and yelling. It got out of hand,” the woman said. “They were insisting they weren’t going to leave, that they had paid for it and they were going to stay there.”
That family called the Community Center Manager Elias Fresquez.
The others, who say they got a key to the center from the county, called 911.
When the family showed the contract they signed to rent the community center from the county, they say the other family said they paid Fresquez for the place and that he said they could use it if they got there first.
“If they paid him obviously it didn’t go the route we went, which is the right way and the money wasn’t going where it was supposed to, so it had to have gone somewhere,” the woman said.
Where that money went is now part of a State Police investigation after the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office handed the case over.
It contains statements from a county worker that both Fresquez and County Commissioner Barney Trujillo on several different occasions have told her to reserve the center for them because they had people lined up to rent it.
However, the county never saw any money for the rentals.
KRQE spoke with Rio Arriba County Assistant Manager David Trujillo.
“We take it very seriously,” he said. “We’ve also launched our own investigation. We take those accusations very seriously.”
He said Fresquez is still working at the community center in Chimayo.
Fresquez has been in and out of jail over the past few years for DWI, a hit and run and disorderly conduct. All three cases were dismissed.