Former DeBaca sheriff charged with embezzlement

CNJ Staff

FORT SUMNER — A former De Baca County sheriff was arraigned Wednesday in a magistrate court on multiple counts of embezzlement, falsifying government documents and intimidation of a witness.

Michael Chavez, 44, is accused of receiving kickbacks from county employees he hired to work overtime on road blocks and warrant service.

Chavez added hours to time sheets and then asked employees to give him the extra money from checks, according to the criminal complaint.

He collected in excess of $3,000 from three people he hired, the complaint said.

The overtime pay came from a state grant.

Chavez is also accused of trading a 1998 Dodge minivan seized during a 2006 traffic stop as payment for repair work on his personal vehicle.

Chavez, who resigned from his position as De Baca County sheriff in June after 1 1/2 years, told a state police investigator he was having severe financial problems, according to the complaint.

He is employed by the Cibola County Sheriff’s Department, Chavez said, when reached by phone. He declined further comment, he said, on the advice of his attorney.

He was released Wednesday on a $35,000 bond.