Former sheriff under investigation for embezzlement

New Mexico

Investigators are looking into whether a former sheriff turned New Mexico judge used nearly $160,000 of taxpayer money for personal use.

The search warrants for Heath White’s home, vehicle and business were unsealed Thursday, detailing the alleged embezzlement.

The investigation started in January when the new sheriff started a full inventory of sheriff’s department equipment and noticed it didn’t match up with White’s purchase orders.

Those who work with the sheriff were taken off guard.

“[I am] surprised and [was] unaware,” Torrance County Commissioner Ryan Schwebach said. “Right now the county is in its investigation. As far as we know, there’s been no charges brought against Judge White.”

The newly unsealed search warrants reveal that White is accused of filling purchase orders using county money to imprint designs and graphics onto firearms. Those kinds of firearms are reportedly sold at his business, the Old Mill Feed Store in Edgewood.

He’s also accused of filling purchase orders for vehicle parts to refurbish his personal Chevy truck.

The news has rocked the county, where people say White is an honest man.

“I was kind of shocked. I’ve always thought of him as a very upfront guy,” former County Commissioner Leroy Candelaria said.

Court documents also reveal that just a few days ago, White contacted investigators to say he had been going through his property and located several department-owned items, including guns, surveillance equipment, a compressor and tools, and would return them.

State Police still asked for a warrant and searched White’s home, vehicle and business, where they seized multiple guns, cameras and surveillance equipment, including drones.

As of Thursday, White still sits on the bench at magistrate court in Moriarty.

KRQE News 13 did call him to see if he would comment, but no one answered.

On Thursday, the state auditor ordered Torrance County to undergo more audits to see if any other county-owned equipment is missing.

In regards to the investigation, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office issued the following statement:

“Elected Officials should be held to a higher standard if they steal from their own communities. My office will continue to seek justice for the people of Torrance County.”  

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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