TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico Sheriff’s deputy is in deep trouble, accused of trying to pull off two jobs at once.
Taos County Deputy Ricky Romero is facing 21 counts, from Medicaid fraud to falsifying time sheets and perjury.
Deputy Ricky Romero ran for Taos County Sheriff in 2014. He lost the election, but stayed working as a deputy with the department. However, according to a 15-page indictment, Romero also claimed to be working another job at the same time he was on patrol as a deputy sheriff.
According to an internal investigation, the Attorney General’s Office received a complaint in 2014 claiming Romero was being paid by Medicaid to care for his neighbor, but wasn’t providing services.
The complaint states Romero signed multiple time sheets from April 2012 through September 2013, claiming he helped his neighbor with things like “meal prep, bathing and cleansing.” Those time sheets were used to bill New Mexico’s Medicaid program, which sent direct deposits to Romero.
Yet, investigators say Romero was working on duty with the sheriff’s department at the same time he claimed to be working as a caregiver. The complaint said Romero “couldn’t have provided services…indicated on the time sheet.” That is a fourth degree felony.
“He could be facing discipline up to termination depending on an outcome of an internal investigation which has not been completed yet,” Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.
When asked if Romero ever neglected duties with his department, Sheriff Hogrefe said he couldn’t comment on personnel matters, but that Romero has been employed with the department for more than 16 years.
According to the indictment, investigators found more than 200 hours of overlapping time on Romero’s time sheets billed to Taos County Sheriff’s Department and Medicaid.
It’s not clear if Romero ever provided any care to his neighbor.