Hatch Woman, Son Facing Fraud Charges Over Fake Parking Fees

HATCH, N.M. (AP) — A woman and her son are facing fraud charges for an alleged parking scheme outside the annual Hatch Chile Festival earlier this month, according to authorities.

Hatch Police said 68-year-old Celeste Zimmerman and 31-year-old Raymond Swingle allegedly collected more than $4,000 in fake parking fees from festival-goers.

Zimmerman and Swingle both have been arrested and booked into the Doña Ana County jail.

It was unclear Sunday if either has a lawyer yet who can speak on their behalf.

According to Albuquerque TV station KOB, court documents showed the committee that organizes the festival decided against parking fees because they aren’t allowed to charge for parking off public roads or on school grounds.

KOB says Swingle allegedly was seen demanding $10 from people to park and reportedly blocked cars until they paid up.

The station said Zimmerman allegedly posted a message on the festival’s website saying there would be a $10 contribution fee to help keep the event running.

Documents show the organizing committee didn’t approve the message, according to KOB. This year’s 50th festival ran from Sept. 2-4.