Torrance County magistrate judge facing several embezzlement charges

New Mexico

A former New Mexico sheriff turned judge is now charged with stealing from the department he oversaw. 

Thursday, Heath White was hit with seven charges. Most of those are felony charges. 

Court officials say White hasn’t been on the bench for more than a week. The criminal complaint says he’s accused of embezzling more than $20,000 from taxpayers during his time as sheriff to make a profit for himself. 

This all stems from allegations he kept tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment that belongs to the sheriff’s department. In search warrants filed last month, investigators accused White of keeping items like cameras, surveillance equipment, drones and much more. 

They also believe he may have used public money to buy guns, vehicle parts and other equipment for himself. Thursday, Attorney General Hector Balderas said State Police found much of it on April 15 during a search of White’s house, vehicle and Old Mill Feed Store in Edgewood where he operated a gun and ammo business. 

However, Balderas is still worried about what wasn’t found. 

“Assault rifles, several pistols were not located and continually at this point, were not located through the commercial process of the store,” he said. 

The AG said White also took $21,000 in state funds appropriated from the legislature in 2015 that was supposed to go toward department vehicles. 

White has not been arrested. He’s expected to appear in front of a judge in the next few days. 

White, who served two terms as Torrance County Sheriff before he was elected magistrate judge last year, now faces up to 17 years in prison if convicted.

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