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Reserve unit included members from across US; Terminated Lake Arthur program subject of nationwide interest

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(Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

Interest in the recently dissolved Lake Arthur reserve officer program extended much farther than New Mexico and its bordering states according to information the Daily Record uncovered through multiple records requests — though it remains uncertain why individuals from such far-flung locations as California and Delaware joined the small Chaves County town’s reserve policing unit.

Participation could have provided the thrill or satisfaction of serving. Some have also pointed out that reserve officers, thanks to the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004, were able to bypass concealed carry laws in all 50 states.

Since the unit was dissolved, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety has stated they are looking into concerns related to the Lake Arthur Police Department’s former police chief William A. Norwood, who created the 150-person unit. According to previous reports, Norwood resigned April 12 after Lake Arthur Mayor Ysidro M. Salazar terminated the reserve unit.

“We do have concerns regarding the matters surrounding Mr. Norwood,” said New Mexico Department of Public Safety spokesman H.L. Lovato. “We are certainly looking into those concerns, to include any matters that may be associated or arise throughout, in an effort to determine the appropriate outcome.”

Dissolution of the reserve unit — and widespread interest in its makeup — followed an article by Bloomberg Businessweek that suggested a link between the reserve unit and Robert Mercer, a New York billionaire, businessman and large contributor to the 2016 Trump campaign.

Records

On April 12, the Daily Record made a formal inspection of public records request to view files for all members affiliated with the Lake Arthur Police Department from 2017-2018, which was to include all members of the Lake Arthur Police Reserve Officers Association (LAPROA). The Town of Lake Arthur responded the same day, stating some records were available, but not all.

After a physical inspection by the newspaper of stacks of applications, certificates and citations, a total of 47 names were found, including most members’ badge numbers and start dates. The newspaper was informed that additional records would be available once they were appropriately redacted.

On April 20, following another records request, the Town of Lake Arthur sent an 83-member roster to the newspaper that displayed members of the reserve unit “upon dissolution.”

Mayor Salazar said in a regular town meeting the evening of April 12 that multiple members of LAPROA were upset and resigned from the reserve unit after the town was asked to release the names of the organization’s members via a public records request.

“When that happened,” Salazar explained, “I chose to go ahead and dissolve the reserve association.”

In contrast to the records that had been physically inspected, the roster received by the Daily Record on April 20 contained only the first and last names of LAPROA members and their corresponding state.

The records obtained from both requests, a total of 83, are as follows:

Arizona

Mark Cullen Johnson, badge no. 484, was listed as a sergeant who started in February 2013.

Micah James Olsen, badge no. 1391, was listed as a patrolman who started in June 2014

Jerod Willard Johnson was listed as a reserve patrolman.

California

John Matthew Klier, badge no. 515, was listed as a senior sergeant who started in September 2010.

Tyrone Marquis Smith Jr., badge no. 8611, was listed as a sergeant who started in February 2011.

Kevin Lynn Kent was listed as a patrolman who applied in October 2012.

Dustin Mohacsi, badge no. 1972, was listed as a sergeant who started in December 2012.

Come Jean Baptiste A. Chantrel, badge no. 727, was listed as a sergeant who started in February 2012.

Bryan Lee Yarbro, badge no. 135, was listed as a sergeant who started in March 2013.

Freddie Jason Richard, badge no. 2318, was listed as a patrolman who started in February 2015.

Craig Dean Castellanos, badge no. 927, was listed as a reserve officer who started in June 2017.

Piya Navanugraha, badge no. 930, was listed as a patrolman who started in November 2015.

Danielle Meriece Pinkston, badge no. 8008, was listed as a reserve patrolman.

Other Californians included Matthew Kyle Powell, Mario Armijo, Andrew Arrabito, James Assad, Toshiro Carrington, Hunt Collins, Brian Cook, Keith Daris, Nicholas Esayian, Royler Gracie, Royce Gracie, Adam Jarrell, Charles Law, Donald Ochoa and Alexander Trafton.

Colorado

Jonathan Canipe and Jonathan Gourley, of Colorado, were listed on the roster.

Connecticut

Truman Brooks, of Connecticut, was also listed as a reservist.

Delaware

Thomas Harold Samples, badge no. 77, was listed as both an officer and patrolman who started in April 2015. David Bolgiano was also listed as a reservist.

Florida

Ronald David Hill, badge no. 1179, was listed as a patrolman who started in August 2016.

Arthur Schulze, badge no. 13, was listed as a patrolman. Richard Lee Schulze, badge no. 15, was listed as a sergeant.

Idaho

Xavier Cristian Ries, badge no. 812, was listed as a sergeant who started in November 2012.

Kansas

Warren Bernard Evert, badge no. 5431, was listed as a patrolman who started in January 2012.

Lewis Carl Thomas, badge no. 414, was listed as a patrolman who started in June 2013.

David Paul Thomas, badge no. 428, was listed as a sergeant who started in June 2012.

Nicolaas Bosch, also of Kansas, was listed as a reservist.

Louisiana

Trent Joseph Zimmer, badge no. 4180, was listed as a sergeant who started in March 2014.

Maryland

Christopher Connors and Chris Givvines were listed as reservists in the roster.

Michigan

Ralph Fisher was listed as a reservist.

Mississippi

Bryan Carpenter was listed as a reservist.

New Jersey

David Adiv was listed as a reservist.

New Mexico

Terry P. Nelson, badge no. 22, was listed as a sergeant who started in December 2011.

Harrison Zane Delmond Rakes, badge no. 326, was listed as a patrolman who started in August 2014.

Mark R. Dietz was listed as a police officer who applied at the LAPD in March 2015.

Kevin Daniel Power, badge no. 9883, was listed as a patrolman who started in August 2015.

Evan Boccardo Rees, badge no. 455, was listed as a patrolman who started in September 2017.

Simon Andrew Kubiak, badge no. 13, was listed as a lieutenant.

Christopher David Stoehner was listed as a patrol officer.

Chase Ryton Hamilton, of New Mexico, was also listed.

Jordan Lee Nighbert was listed as a senior sergeant.

Nathan Kerbel, badge no. 486, was listed as a state-certified police officer. Kerbel’s start date was redacted.

Frank F. Methola, was listed as a patrolman.

Adam Chavez, New Mexico.

Arturo Fabela, badge no. 1114, was listed as a patrolman who started in August 2016.

Other New Mexico members, per the roster provided, were Oliver Brooks, Akshara Crites, Burns Forsythe, Daniel Hutson and Charles Kauffman.

New York

Matthew Schamroth, badge no. 1717, was listed as a lieutenant. Schamroth’s start date was listed as February 2014.

Nevada

Scott Eugene Wolff, badge no. 1103, was listed as a sergeant who started in March 2014.

North Carolina

Louie Banks was listed as a reservist.

Pennsylvania

Charles Allen Lafferty Jr. was listed as a patrolman who applied at the LAPD in March 2016.

Rhode Island

Michael Anthony Szot, badge no. 5337, was listed as a patrolman who started in December 2013.

Texas

William Michael Rodriguez, badge no. 5150, was listed as a sergeant who started in February 2014.

Timothy Marshall Reames, badge no. 3208, was listed as a patrolman who started in April 2014.

Timothy Michael St. Hilaire, badge no. 9522, was listed as a K9 officer who started in October 2015.

Duane Liptak Jr., badge no. 7502, was listed as a sergeant who started in August 2016.

William Josiah Klein-Rivera, badge no. 1534, was listed as a sergeant who started in November 2014. Other reservists from Texas included Allan Brooks and Stephen Hodnett.

Utah

Andrew Haywood was listed as a reservist.

Virginia

Glenn Michael Riccio, badge no. 2112, was listed as a patrolman who started in April 2014.

James Donald Smith, badge no. 325, was listed as a sergeant who started in October 2016. Other members from Virginia included Cameron Dieterle and Michael Green.

Wisconsin

Charles Louis Lasky, badge no. 610, was listed as a lieutenant who started in November 2010.

Recommendations

According to Lake Arthur treasurer and town clerk Debra Sallee, in order to be in the organization, aspiring members had to be recommended by a fellow reservist.

“You couldn’t just call and say, ‘I want to be a reserve,’ so I’m guessing that’s probably the coincidence of them being in the same area,” Salle said. “I don’t think there’s anything odd about it. I understand the concept — like I said — these were ex-military, some of them were retired, from ex-military. It’s Navy Seals and whatnot. They missed their service, you know, this is the way of getting back into it.”

Sallee also clarified that Adam Chavez and Frank Methola had previously been commissioned officers with the Lake Arthur Police Department.

“They were paid. They didn’t get paid but a dollar a year, but they were paid,” she said. “They got a dollar a year and most of the time, they didn’t cash that dollar a year, and the check was voided — and they didn’t get anything else. They got a raise this year. They got 20 dollars.”

Though numerous other names remain, there were no signs of Robert Mercer’s information in any of the physically inspected documents or the roster.

Emails

Bloomberg’s original story, “Robert Mercer’s Secret Adventure as a New Mexico Cop,” included a letter said to be written to Robert L. Mercer from William A. Norwood. The letter, which Bloomberg stated came as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request, was dated Sept. 14, 2017, and congratulated Mercer for his volunteer efforts with LAPROA and released him from further service, with the subject line, “RELEASE FROM SERVICE.”

According to previous Daily Record reports, Sallee said Norwood told her Robert Mercer was an “honorary” member of LAPROA.

On April 16, the Daily Record made a request to inspect all email from Norwood that included “RELEASE FROM SERVICE” in the subject line, from the point when LAPROA was created to when it was dissolved.

The town responded a day later, stating there were no emails including the requested subject line “or otherwise.”

“When the foundation dissolved the server was also,” Sallee said in an email. “Accordingly, when the chief resigned, his email address with the town was discontinued.”

When the newspaper tried to clarify and asked if all emails pertaining to LAPROA had been deleted, the town stated no, and that Norwood’s email is no longer active.

“I said when the LAPROA was dissolved, the server was shut down as well and when the chief of police resigned his email was discontinued,” Sallee said. “I cannot provide something I don’t have.”

Emails to Norwood’s address continue to go through, with no error messages.

Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.