Former officer found guilty of criminal damage

It took a District Court jury in Tucumcari less then 30 minutes Thursday to find a former Tucumcari Police officer guilty of criminal damage to property of a household member.

Pete Vargas, 32, stood silent at the Tenth Judicial District Court as the decision of the jury was read. Judge Drew Tatum sentenced Vargas to complete 364 days probation, anger management courses and pay restitution for the damaged property.

Vargas was originally charged with fourth-degree felony breaking and entering and misdemeanor criminal damage to property in an incident Feb. 26 at the residence of a former girlfriend, Roseann Quintana.

"The felony charge of breaking and entering was dropped and the criminal complaint was amended by Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler on Nov. 28," said Jennifer Burrill, Vargas' defense attorney.

Burrill said she was surprised with the quickness of the jury's deliberation and return of their verdict. She said she will have to discuss with her client if they choose to appeal the ruling.

"It was a clear-cut case and the jury decided in the end that Mr. Vargas was guilty," said Jarred Morris, Ninth Judicial District trial attorney.

Morris said Vargas had his right to a jury trial, which he requested and "We feel the jury came back with the right decision."

Vargas had worked for the Tucumcari Police Department for 3 1/2 years. At the time of the incident, Tucumcari Police Chief Jason Braziel said he was determining how to proceed on the matter. Meanwhile, Vargas was using vacation time he had accrued.

Vargas later submitted his resignation on April 19.

Vargas surrendered himself to State Police on Feb. 27 at Quay County Magistrate Court after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

According to court documents.

  • At 3:50 a.m. Feb. 26 state police were dispatched to 1805 S. Sixth St., Tucumcari, in reference to a male subject who had broken into a residence.
  • Tucumcari Police officer Clay Cullison, was already on scene and had requested state police investigate the incident upon learning the subject in question was an off-duty Tucumcari Police officer.
  • Vargas and the owner of the residence, Roseann Quintana has had a continuing intimate relationship.
  • A warrant was issued for Vargas' arrest for one count of breaking and entering and criminal damage to property.

According to a affidavit by state police Officer Mark Jackson:

  • at approximately 3:50 a.m. he was notified by state police dispatch of an incident at 1805 S. Sixth St.
  • on arrival at 4:20 a.m., he met with Tucumcari police officer Cullison, who told him he was patrolling the area and at 3:10 a.m., he observed Vargas driving by the residence in question and stopped to speak with him (Vargas).
  • Cullison said Vargas' demeanor was very agitated, and avoided answering questions. He (Vargas) said, "I am just driving around)."
  • Cullison said at 3:15 a.m. he observed Quintana walking on 1700 block of South Sixth Street. Cullison said he asked Quintana if she and Vargas had been fighting. She (Quintana) replied, "She was OK."
  • Cullison said at 3:25 a.m. he was dispatched to 1805 S. Sixth St. for a call of breaking and entering. Quintana told him Vargas had broken into her house, damaging her front door. Cullison contacted State Police.
  • Jackson said he spoke with two juvenile witnesses at 8:10 a.m., one of which identified Vargas as the person who kicked in the door.

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