A former Hagerman police chief received a suspended prison sentence and probation Monday for sending sexual images and texts to a minor.
Cassius “Cass” Mason III, 68, of Hagerman, was sentenced in Fifth Judicial District Court on one count of child solicitation by electronic device to six years in prison followed by two years parole, all suspended and replaced with three years supervised probation.
He will also be required to register as a sex offender for the next 10 years and is prohibited from contact with the victim during the period of probation.
In exchange for Mason changing his plea from not guilty to no contest, the prosecution opted not to pursue two other charges against Mason: one count of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of criminal sexual contact of a minor.
The agreement does allow Mason to have unsupervised contact with his grandchildren, who are under the age of 18. The sentence was recommended by the prosecution, agreed upon by the defense and ultimately granted by Judge James Hudson.
The allegations against Mason came to light after the victim’s mother in May 2017 found a cellphone that contained sexual images of her daughter as well as sexually explicit text messages.
An affidavit by a Chaves County deputy states the victim later said Mason gave her the phone and asked her to send him pictures of herself. She said she had sent about 20.
When he handed down the sentence Monday, Hudson described Mason’s conduct as “profoundly wrong.”
“We are here today because the innocence of a young girl was destroyed,” Hudson said.
Gary Mitchell, defense attorney representing Mason, said his client and friend had made a “huge error,” but pointed to Mason’s long record of service to the community of Hagerman.
He noted Mason’s past work as an emergency medical technician, firefighter, police officer and eventually police chief. Mitchell added that nearly everyone in Hagerman has a story about how Mason helped them.
“I mean, it’s an amazing story,” Mitchell said.
He added that the acts that ultimately resulted in the charges brought against Mason marked a horrible end to his career in Hagerman.
Mason was one of five men between the ages of 20 and 66 who, in 2017, faced numerous charges of sexual exploitation of and contact with a young girl.
Christian Torres, 23; Alfred Brown Jr., 60; and Johnny Terrazas, 62, all from Roswell, along with Nicholas Landers, 21, of Hagerman, also faced charges.
The five suspects did not appear to have been conspiring together, but acting on their own with no specific knowledge of the other’s involvement, Britt Snyder, then-Chaves County Sheriff, said when charges were filed.
According to court documents, Terrazas was sentenced in July per plea agreement to four years in the Department of Corrections, with another seven suspended. Upon completion of his sentence, Terrazas will serve between five and 20 years on probation.
Brown entered a guilty plea in 2018. He was sentenced to 11 years incarceration, all suspended, with five years to be served on supervised probation.
Court documents state Torres is now awaiting trial and charges against Landers have been dismissed with prejudice — meaning the charges cannot be refiled.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at email@example.com.