Rodella lawyers: Federal government acted 'maliciously' when indicting sheriff

Posted at: 08/21/2014 9:19 PM
Updated at: 08/21/2014 10:08 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy has released a letter the board says it sent to Rio Arriba County Sheriff Tommy Rodella Thursday.

Law enforcement certification isn't required to be a sheriff in Rio Arriba County since it is an elected position. That means Rodella could still do the administrative parts or the job, but because of restrictions as a result of the federal charges, isn't able to carry a gun.

Some people have called for Rodella to step down in light of the news. Others say he should have his day in court first.

"I don't know- it's up to the legal system," Carlos Zamora said. "So play it by the books, see what happens."

The board's decision comes after Rodella was federally charged, accused of violating a man's civil rights. The Federal Bureau of Investigation says Rodella and his son chased down an Espanola man in a personal vehicle and beat him with a pistol.

Rodella's attorneys maintain the case is baseless. They say the U.S. attorney for the district of New Mexico is targeting Rodella because of a personal vendetta.

 "This particular case is about the federal government thinking they can come in and do anything they want in small counties because they have all the power, and the people don't have the power," Jason Bowles, attorney for Rodella said.

As of Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office said Rodella was still running the department.