New Mexico

Belen Police Chief's past misconduct comes to light on heels of resignation

BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) - Belen's top cop, Scott Conner, has spoken with reporters over the past two years about some of Belen's criminal cases. However, KRQE News 13 has learned he doesn't exactly have a squeaky clean record himself. 

As reported earlier this week, Conner resigned after it was found he'd been paying officers for time they didn't work, used his police vehicle inappropriately, and even installed his own vending machine at the police station and collected the profits.

"It doesn't matter whether it's $1,000 or $100,000 -- we're gonna be concerned about it," said Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova in an interview on Monday.

What the city of Belen didn't know when they hired him, is that Conner was fired as commander with the Roswell Police Department in October 2010, after an investigation found he helped a friend do a concrete job using stolen rebar.  

When deputies started asking questions, they say he helped cover it up by creating a fake business and fake invoices. When deputies questioned Conner, he asked if he "was wanting to make a deal, or what?"

Within no time, Conner was hired as a deputy in De Baca County and was eventually elected Sheriff.

During that time, he was accused of executing an illegal search after a traffic stop. A judge ruled in the defendant's favor and threw out the evidence. Years later, he abruptly resigned and took the job in Belen.

So how did Conner keep getting hired in law enforcement?

Roswell Police sent a misconduct report to the Law Enforcement Academy (LEA) Board regarding his firing shortly after it happened. 

However, according to LEA Board minutes from a meeting in 2012, it wasn't investigated until almost a year later. The board decided Conner was supposed to serve a 90 day suspension, but since it hadn't happened when it was supposed to, they made an exception and credited him time served. 

"An officer's integrity is everything. If they're not believable, if they don't have credibility then they can't do their job," said LEA Director Stephan Marshall in an interview in May about misconduct.  

In the past, Marshall has stressed how important misconduct investigations are. but it appears in this case the hiring agencies didn't know.

Belen's mayor said they did conduct an extensive background and reference check of Conner -- even internet searches -- but nothing came up. What he can't say is if they reached out to the LEA Board. 

He said the Human Resources Director in place during Conner's hiring is no longer there. 

When KRQE News 13 tried to ask if they knew of Conner's past, De Baca County didn't return our calls.  According to paperwork, however, it appears the LEA investigation happened well after De Baca County hired him. 

Conner was offered a chief job in Mountain Home, Idaho, but that was before his past was revealed. It's unclear if that offer still stands.  

Conner will remain at the Belen Police Department until December. KRQE News 13 is told he has been disciplined, but officials haven't revealed what that entailed. 


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