Local teacher arrested for helping felon who was also former student

Crime

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Police arrested a New Mexico teacher for harboring or aiding a felon, who was also her former student. New Mexico State Police said 45-year-old Denise Romero, a teacher at an Albuquerque charter school, now faces two felony charges for helping a former student break the law and then trying to hide the evidence.

State Police launched an investigation after 20-year-old Jeremy Garcia left his construction job. “He left the worksite and never came back,” said Ofc. Dusty Francisco, a public information officer with State Police.

Garcia was supposed to return to the Eagle Nest Reintegration Center. He is in the custody of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, or CYFD, because of an armed robbery case from when he was just 16 years old, according to court records.

However, while he was at work last month, State Police said Garcia used his boss’s cell phone to send a text. Someone picked him up in a black SUV, and he didn’t report back to the CYFD facility. So, investigators checked the phone.

“Mrs. Romero’s number was located inside that cell phone,” Ofc. Francisco said.

Then police learned Romero drives a black Nissan Murano. Court documents also reveal that State Police had investigated her before, for an inappropriate relationship with Garcia when she was his teacher while he was incarcerated at the Camino Nuevo Correctional Facility in Albuquerque.

Police arrested Romero last week for harboring or aiding a felon and tampering with evidence because they said she tried to delete a message and sign out of social media apps before handing over her cell phone.

“There’s other messages that indicated that they were communicating,” Ofc. Francisco said.

Romero was working for CYFD until August 2019, according to a spokesperson with the department. More recently, State Police said, she was teaching at Mission Achievement and Success Charter School. The website listed her as a 6th-grade math teacher at the location off of Sage and Old Coors in southwest Albuquerque, but it appears her name was removed from the staff list on the website Tuesday.

KRQE News 13 called the school for comment. The woman who answered the phone said they would pass along our contact information and the interview request, but no one ever gave us a callback.

Garcia is charged with escaping CYFD custody. He’s expected to be in CYFD custody until March when he turns 21 years old. In 2016, Garcia was among 11 young men the Albuquerque Police Department named in a news conference, calling out a group of teens accused in a rash of violent crimes throughout the city.

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