SANTA FE (KRQE) – The Santa Fe Police Lieutenant, accused of faking hours worked and stealing public money, nearly struck a plea deal Monday until the District Court judge didn’t let it happen.
Lt. Jason Wagner is accused of falsifying his time sheet for SFPD over a three month period in late 2013.
When Wagner was approached about the problem by then-Chief Ray Rael, who said he had proof of what Wagner did because of the GPS tracker in his patrol car, Wagner resigned.
But, seven months later, new Chief Eric Garcia rehired Wagner. After a preliminary hearing in June where a judge ruled enough evidence to go to trial, Wagner was put on unpaid leave.
In District Court Monday afternoon, Wagner’s attorney, John Day, and prosecutors presented a plea deal to the judge. The deal meant Wagner would plead no contest to one misdemeanor count of attempt to pay or receive public monies not rendered. He would receive one year of unsupervised probation and would immediately resign from SFPD.
But Judge T. Glenn Ellington immediately halted the deal.
“Is there a restitution requirement?” the Judge Ellington asked.
“No, there is not, Your Honor,” the prosecutor with the DA’s Office responded.
“I won’t sign it,” the judge replied.
The prosecutors and Day quickly came back after a few minutes with the addition of nearly $600 in restitution to the deal.
The judge however, still rejected it. He said he also expected to see Wagner’s New Mexico Peace Officers license revoked, citing the crime’s heavy implications on taxpayers and the community.
The prosecutors, Day and the judge decided to meet again to discuss the peal.
Day says his client is innocent and that Wagner was “flexing” his time and doing police work from home.
“Our belief all along has been that this is overcharged and that there’s no crime, no intent to commit a crime here,” Day said.