Posted at: 04/18/2013 9:52 PM
Updated at: 04/18/2013 10:37 PM
By: Gadi Schwartz, KOB $ On Your Side
KOB’s 4 On Your Side team and the FBI are investigating the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s scholarship fund.
The 4OYS team spoke with a man who said he fell victim to the scam. It's a story we have heard over and over in Rio Arriba County.
Someone is pulled over, cited for all kinds of reasons and then promised the charges would be dropped if they contribute to a scholarship fund
The man 4OYS spoke with said he was in a jail cell when at some point Sheriff Tommy Rodella brought him out and told him if he donated $500 dollars, he would drop the charges against him.
The ‘donor’ only agreed to share what happened to him if he remained anonymous.
"I was going to be going to jail and a few hours later when they came at me and told me that if I wanted that I could get off my charges I could pay $500 dollars they would be dismissed and it would be like nothing ever happened,” he said.
4OYS was denied access earlier this week to review the scholarship fund’s finances because the records are not public.
The FBI came Wednesday and seized those exact documents.
A spokesman for the department said what they were doing was legal as long as the deputies didn’t ask for the donations.
"If they do that they would be subject to discipline here in this office,” spokesman Jake Arnold said.
But 4OYS’s source said it was the sheriff, himself, who hit him up for money.
“We went into a back room, a separate room and he asked me if I would like to donate the $500, I had that option and everything would be cleared up all my charges so that is the option I went with,” he said. “It was either that or go to jail so of course I went with paying the $500.”
For days, the 4OYS team has been trying to talk to Rodella about the allegations, but he has avoided and even cancelled a meeting with the team.
If the contributions are all legal, why would the FBI raid the sheriff’s office and why is Rodells avoided the 4OYS team? 4OYS will continue to press for answers.