ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque business owner is denying that he stole rocks to engrave and then sell at his landscaping company.
A nonprofit group on Friday wanting to preserve the land where the rocks came from, took the rocks back from Stone Images Unlimited off Edith and Montano. The nonprofit, Anton Chico Land Grant, told KRQE News 13 it was taking back rocks the business owner, Eric Sandoval, stole from land grant property.
“I really don’t have a price on it or actually a set deal. We just set them in the county yard for now,” Anton Chico Land Grant Board President Stoney Jaramillo said. “We’re trying to protect what belongs to our future kids.”
This follows another incident involving stolen land grant rocks earlier this month. A criminal summons accuses Sandoval of criminal trespass and taking rocks worth more than $250 from Anton Chico Land Grant property in Guadalupe County on June 4.
“The charges they charged against me is really bogus,” Sandoval said. He’s also charged with defacing them, which could be the engraving work on the rocks shown on the business’ Facebook page.
“Don’t destroy all the land just to fill your pockets. I don’t believe that is right,” Jaramillo stated. Jaramillo added Sandoval has not paid his land grant dues in years, and that he does not have a valid permit to take the rocks.
“Some of those stones that were in Eric’s place were sold for thousands of dollars and the permits are only for $100. He never actually stayed up with his permits or anything like that,” Jaramillo said.
“They lied about the whole situation. I got permits,” Sandoval said.
The criminal summons states a deputy went to Sandoval’s home in Anton Chico in early June and Sandoval admitted he sells the land grant rocks in Albuquerque for $50 to $80 each.
The summons states a court order required him to later return 73 rocks to land on the side of Highway 386.
Sandoval’s business has an ‘F’ rating from the Better Business Bureau and there are dozens of negative online reviews on Google and Yelp.