Lawsuit against State Police Chief claims inappropriate behavior

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - A scathing lawsuit against the State Police Chief and the state is full of allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. 

The 32-page suit is rife with seedy stories and wild accusations that also include the governor. 

It even has ties to a high-profile scandal KRQE News 13 exposed of a female state cop being let out of a DWI arrest. A warning -- the lawsuit contains crude and offensive language. 

"It's very courageous to speak up, and they did and that was the right thing to do," NMSP Chief Pete Kassetas said in 2017, applauding officers who reported one of their own for stealing on the job. 

Yet, in this lawsuit filed Tuesday, Sgt. Monica Martinez-Jones claims she was retaliated against for reporting that lieutenant's on the job theft. 

Read the lawsuit here >>

She claims it was part of a pattern by Chief Kassetas in denying her a promotion, and instead promoting less qualified men. 

She even claims she was suspended for 25 days for joking with straight officers, calling them "fags." She says that suspension was unfair because male officers get away with much worse. 

Martinez-Jones says a deputy-chief quoted Kassetas as saying, "I am never going to promote that b****." 

Remember that State Police officer, Jessica Turner, who investigators say was found drunk behind the wheel near Alamogordo this year, but wasn't arrested for DWI?

Her fiance is that deputy-chief, Michael Suggs, who retired this year when the governor appointed him as a judge in Alamogordo. 

Suggs is also on the lawsuit. He claims Kassetas has always had it out for him, and tried to freeze him out of the department. 

He tells a story of Kassetas telling Department of Public Safety Deputy Secretary Amy Orlando her boots, "made him feel hot and bothered." 

Suggs says the governor told Kassetas "he needed to make better decisions," to which Kassetas questioned the governor's own judgement, alluding to the now-infamous pizza party. 

Now-retired Sgt. Julia Armendariz is also suing. She was the head of the security detail at the time of the governor's famous "pizza party" at the Eldorado Hotel. 

Openly lesbian, she claims homophobic epithets and sexual harassment are condoned in the department, and women are judged by their looks. 

Armendariz claims the governor paid off the gambling debt for a state cop on her security detail who had been caught gambling on the job at Route 66 Casino, loaning him $20,000 from her inheritance instead of firing him -- another example of favoritism in the department, according to Armendariz. 

The lawsuit claims the governor was well-aware of all the problems at the State Police, and never did anything about it. 

A spokesperson for the Governor's Office sent the following statement in response to the lawsuit: 

The state has not been served with any lawsuit, but in quickly reviewing the document we’ve received, it contains many ridiculous allegations that are completely removed from the truth. The claim that the Governor wrote a $20,000 check to Ruben Maynes for his gambling debts is not true, the Governor never received any payment at any time from Maynes, and the Maynes relatives who worked for the state were hired long before 2014 - which was publicly reported years ago. Finally, there were never any allegations of sexual harassment involving the campaign bus, much less any settlement — this appears to be invented out of whole cloth. It’s sad and disappointing that these individuals are willing to throw so many outlandish claims against the wall in order to create a wild-eyed conspiracy theory to settle scores with the State Police Chief. We take seriously all allegations of misconduct — including those against the State Police Chief — and they are thoroughly investigated and handled appropriately.

Chief Pete Kassetas did not wish to comment on the pending litigation.


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