Small town mayor pleads guilty following KRQE investigation; offers no apology

Larry Barker

LOGAN, N.M. (KRQE) – The last time we caught up with Logan, NM, Mayor David Babb was back in March. Our visit with the Eastern New Mexico elected official was not a social call. 

You see, we were in Logan to ask ‘Hizzoner’ about his latest run-in with the law. Before departing for an afternoon of fishing at Ute Lake, Mayor Babb told KRQE, “Well, I’m not doing it anymore.”

“This is a serious matter. Our citizens in New Mexico are being victimized because of this,” State Construction Bureau Chief Martin Romero told us last March.

Mayor Babb’s troubles first surfaced in 2017 after he got mixed up in a con game orchestrated by a fugitive sex offender from Tennessee named John Harley.

Harley peddled heating and air conditioning units all over Eastern New Mexico. He installed expensive equipment in residential properties, businesses, churches, government buildings, even the American Legion. 

However, John Harley was a fraud. Because he lacked qualifications to set up gas equipment, his installations were illegal, shoddy, and dangerous.

He cheated one Logan resident out of $2,500. Another lost $4,200. A retired Roswell banker who has a vacation home in Logan was cheated out of more than $6,000. One San Jon businessman lost more than $15,000.

And John Harley did not act alone. He had an accomplice: Logan Mayor David Babb. Most of the equipment installed by Harley was purchased from the manufacturer by his friend Mayor Babb. Although the Mayor was a licensed electrician, he was not qualified to install gas equipment.

So, when the Mayor bungled the install of a furnace at a rural Quay County ranch, he cheated the owners out of some $1,700. And, when Logan’s City Hall, Fire Department, Senior Center, and Medical Clinic all ended up with illegal furnace connections, the Mayor admitted he was involved.

John Harley was later convicted on criminal charges filed in Quay County Magistrate Court, but the Tennessee drifter skipped town shortly after his conviction. He remains a fugitive today.

When asked if he “felt bad” about his involvement in the Logan furnace scandal, Mayor Babb said, “Well sure.”

“It was not a deliberate act. It wasn’t intended to hurt anybody,” Logan’s Mayor told KRQE News 13 in 2017.

In an April 2017 Settlement Agreement with state regulators, David Babb admitted to licensing violations and relinquished his electrical contractor’s license. Shortly after, Babb resigned as Logan’s Mayor.

“He agreed that he was no longer going to engage in any type of unlicensed contracting. He would not present himself as a licensed contractor,” Construction Bureau Chief Martin Romero said.

“He (cannot) apply for any type of licensure within the state of New Mexico. He also agreed to pay a ten thousand dollar penalty for those violations,” Romero said.

Even though Babb’s electrical contractor’s license was permanently revoked, a KRQE investigation finds that didn’t stop the ex-Mayor. Just one week after agreeing to surrender his electrical contractor’s license, David Babb was back in business.

When the trash compactor at Logan’s Landfill broke down, Babb billed the town for its repair. He hit up Logan for electrical repairs at the Police Department, the EMS office, the Village Hall, the Maintenance Building and the Senior Center. According to Martin Romero, it is a crime to do contracting work without a license.

One year after resigning as Logan’s Mayor, David Babb changed his mind about public service. Last year, Babb was re-elected mayor.

KRQE went back to Logan to ask Mayor Babb about his unauthorized electrical work at the village. “It was stuff that needed to be done. (I was) trying to keep the village operating,” Mayor Babb said. Logan’s elected Mayor admitted he didn’t have a contractor’s license and that he did do work after his license was revoked.

Shortly after our interview, Babb was slapped with a Criminal Complaint charging him with working as a contractor without a license. He was accused of illegally doing electrical repairs for the Village of Logan over a nine-month period.

Late last month, David Babb pleaded guilty to violations of the Construction Industries Licensing Act. He was ordered to pay an $800 fine and placed on probation. A 90-day jail term was suspended.

Earlier this year, KRQE asked Babb if he had any apologies to make to the people of Logan. “The people of Logan appreciated what I did,” Mayor Babb said in March.

DV.load(“https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6269413-2019-03-30-Criminal-Complaint.js”, { responsive: true, container: “#DV-viewer-6269413-2019-03-30-Criminal-Complaint” }); 2019 03 30 Criminal Complaint (PDF)
2019 03 30 Criminal Complaint (Text)

READ: March 2019 Criminal Complaint >>

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