ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Ashley Jones is used to trash blowing into her yard. It’s just part of living off busy Candelaria Road in Albuquerque. However, strong fall winds blew in something unusual into her yard on October 13 that really caught her eye.
“We find cups, we find receipts,” Jones said. “Every now and then we do find papers blowing into our yard, usually school kids’ homework.”
One piece of paper that floated into her back yard and another that got stuck in the thorns of her rose bushes were different.
“It clearly had the red ‘Presbyterian’ across it,” Jones told KRQE News 13.
They were medical documents with some very personal information.
“I was really surprised to find something that had someone’s birth date, address, Social Security number, medical treatments, payouts,” she said.
Jones returned the two documents to Presbyterian. A manager told Jones the hospital was not responsible for the lose papers. Back at her home, Jones and her husband took a walk and found seven other medical documents blowing along the street and sidewalk near Candelaria and Louisiana. They were all from different medical facilities and all had three-hole punches, as if they had been in a three-ring binder.
Presbyterian, according to Jones, had a guess where they came from.
“They thought it maybe was a lawyer’s file,” Jones said.
All the paperwork Jones found belonged to Luciano Gallegos.
“I was shocked, I was so baffled that this type of information was blowing around Albuquerque,” Jones said, adding: “I shouldn’t have this information. Nobody else should have this information, it should be confidential, it shouldn’t be out there for the world to see.”
The documents were from 2005 and 2006 and were in good condition. It clearly hadn’t been blowing around town for long.
Gallegos’s phone number on the nearly decade-old paperwork was disconnected. So KRQE News 13 drove to Socorro, where 75-year-old Gallegos still lives at the address listed on the documents.
“That’s my name, yeah,” Gallegos said, looking at the paperwork. “If it gets into the wrong hands with my Social Security, lord knows what,” he said.
The paperwork was part of a workers’ compensation claim. Gallegos said he was injured in a paving job when the brakes of a machine failed.
“This other truck pinned me to our chip spreader,” Gallegos said. “(I have) PTSD, I had three operations on this knee, I had my shoulder operated on… It crushed me. I was supposed to be dead.”
The New Mexico Association of Counties, the organization that handles insurance claims for worker’s comp cases in the state, said the files blowing down the street didn’t come from the association’s office.
“They all get scanned, go right in the computer and they’re shredded. We don’t keep any paper,” said Taylor Horst, risk manager director for the association.
Gallegos had a revelation about where the paperwork came from when KRQE News 13 told him the documents were found blowing down Candelaria near Louisiana.
“That’s his office,” Gallegos said, referring to the attorney who represented him in the workers’ comp claim.
Gallegos said he wasn’t happy about the settlement attorney Joseph Camacho won for his tort claim. Gallegos said he is appealing the court’s decision in that case.
“He didn’t represent me right,” Gallegos said.
Gallegos wonders whether his attorney tossed his file away on purpose.
“I did contact the state Bar Association, and I said: ‘Look, this is what’s going on with my attorney.’ Maybe that’s why he got mad,” Gallegos said.
The paper trail started just outside attorney Joseph Camacho’s office at the corner of Louisiana and Candelaria.
“Something’s fishy about this man,” Gallegos said.
After a couple phone calls that went unanswered, KRQE News 13 tracked Camacho down as he was closing up his law office and moving out.
Camacho didn’t appear concerned about the records that were found near his office. He said the records looked familiar, but wouldn’t confirm they came from his office.
When asked whether Gallegos’s file has always been in his possession or whether some documents were missing, Camacho said “I don’t recall. I’ll have to check on it.” Then he walked away and closed a door to his office.
Luciano Gallegos now has all the records found blowing down the street. Nobody knows if there’s more out there.
“I’m devastated,” Gallegos said.