Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Former Tucumcari officer to be arraigned on arson charges


December 9, 2014

QCS Staff

Dustin “Dusty” Lopez, a former Tucumcari police officer facing felony arson charges, faces arraignment at 1 p.m. Monday before Tenth District Court Judge Albert Mitchell in Tucumcari, court rdecords show.

Robert Sandoval of Tucumcari, a co-defendant, will be arraigned at the same time, according to Matt Chandler, special prosecutor in the case.

Another co-defendant, Dani J. Martinez, has also been charged in the case but will be arraigned at another time, Chandler said.

All three are free on bond, Chandler said. Lopez and Sandoval must wear ankle monitors, he said.

Court records show that Martinez was freed on an unsecured appearance bond $50,000.

Terms of her bond show she is not to associate with the other parties in the investigation, must remain on curfew from 7p.m. to 7a.m., and must not use social media or a cell phone, as per Quay County Magistrate Judge Joel Garnett.

Lopez, Martinez and Sandoval were charged on Oct. 28 with arson and conspiracy to commit arson in Quay County Magistrate Court, according to nmcourts.gov. New Mexico State

Police Investigation Bureau Officer Chester Bobbit filed the charges with Garnett.

All three are charged in connection with fires in the early morning of Sept. 3 that destroyed the abandoned Payless Inn, 200 E. Route 66 Blvd., Tucumcari, and an abandoned house at 524 N. Fourth St., Tucumcari. The fires were reported `within an hour of each other, Tucumcari Fire Chief Larry Rigdon said.

The three buildings on the Payless Inn property, all of which were destroyed in the blaze, were valued at $155,155.

Lopez resigned from the Tucumcari Police Department on Oct. 2, the day after New Mexico State Police searched his home. Lopez did not give a reason for his decision to resign, said Tucumcari Police Chief Jason Braziel.

State police received information there was evidence on Lopez’s cell phone connecting him and four others with a series of arson fires set in Tucumcari in September.

Only Lopez and Sandoval, however, have been charged, Chandler said.


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