Ruling Upholds Dismissal Of Charges Against Former Sheriff

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A state appeals court on Thursday upheld a trial judge's dismissal of charges accusing a former New Mexico sheriff of embezzlement, fraud and other financial crimes.

A Court of Appeals panel disagreed with parts of now-former District Court Judge Charles Brown's decision dismissing the case against Heath White but said prosecutors failed to provide evidence that probable cause existed to warrant making the ex-Torrance County sheriff stand trial.

After New Mexico State Police investigators found guns and other sheriff’s office-owned items on White’s property during a raid, White was accused in 2019 of using taxpayer dollars to buy personal items.

However, the Court of Appeals said there was evidence that White after he left office had contacted the sheriff's department about returning items that had been stored at his home and that it was “a regular practice for county equipment to be stored at other deputies' homes."

Also, purchase orders presented as evidence by prosecutors during a preliminary hearing in White's case had all been approved by the purchasing department, the Court of Appeals said.