By Vic Vela Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE, N.M. — A former Santa Fe police detective – who was fired and ended up losing his law enforcement license after he was caught on an FBI tape allegedly making shady deals with a known felon – is suing for wrongful termination, claiming that he was the victim of entrapment.
Jose Valencia also accuses the police department administration of orchestrating the events that led to his termination in 2010 out of retaliation for uncovering "improper acts" at the department, according to a federal lawsuit that was filed in U.S. District Court on Friday.
City Manager Robert Romero – who is not named in the lawsuit – declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday, saying that the city has not yet been served with notice of the filing.
Valencia's firing came about two years after he was accused of agreeing to provide guns to a known drug dealer, Maximiliano Gonzales, with the knowledge that Gonzales intended to use the weapons to commit murder.
The conversations between Valencia – who was the president of the police union at the time – and Gonzales were captured on FBI recordings.
Valencia was also accused of providing descriptions of undercover drug officers to Gonzales, among other allegations.
Gonzales never followed through on any scheme to commit murder and Valencia has never been criminally charged. But the state Law Enforcement Academy Board ended up stripping Valencia of his law enforcement license for life in 2010, following an administrative hearing process.
Valencia claims in the 39-page federal lawsuit that he was done wrong by the city of Santa Fe and the police department.
Valencia alleges that findings of wrongdoing from an internal affairs investigation, stemming from his conversations with Gonzales, were retaliation for a series of unrelated events where he became a "thorn in the side" of the city.
Valencia maintains he uncovered wrongful acts by fellow officers and also refused to give in to the administration while he was negotiating contracts in his role as police union head, according to the lawsuit, filed by Albuquerque attorneys Alvin Garcia and Charles Lakins.
While under internal investigation for his dealings with Gonzales, Valencia claims, he uncovered overtime fraud by recruiting officers, including Gillian Alessio, who now is a deputy police chief. Valencia also reported that two police officers embezzled money from the Santa Fe Police Officer's Association.
In addition, Valencia says in the suit that he was retaliated against for refusing to "make an illegal arrest and falsify a police report in an incident that involved the juvenile nephew of (former police lieutenant) Gerald Rivera."
Valencia's suit accuses Assistant City Attorney Mark Allen and former high-ranking police officers of putting pressure on him while he conducted contract negotiations in his role as police union head, at the same time he was the subject of an internal affairs investigation.
Valencia claims that he was told he would receive leniency during the internal affairs process if he gave up on trying to get officers pay raises during the contract negotiations. Valencia's suit says he did not let up and that the day after contract negotiations concluded, he was served with the findings of the IA investigation, which sustained all allegations of misconduct against him, the lawsuit states.
As for the allegations of entrapment, Valencia's lawsuit claims that when Gonzales told Region III Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force that he had information on Valencia being a "dirty cop," the unit "recruited" Gonzales "to engage in an entrapment operation designed and intended to induce (Valencia) into committing a crime – namely to sell a firearm to a known felon."
Several named and unnamed current and former officers are listed as defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.
Copyright 2012 Albuquerque Journal
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