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Charges against former State Police officer dismissed

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The case against a former New Mexico State Police Officer who allegedly solicited and received nude photos from an underage girl has been dismissed, but could be refiled at a later date.

A motion for dismissal was granted Feb. 17 in the case of Ricky Romero, 25, of Roswell.

The notice of dismissal said “in the interest of justice,” the six criminal counts against Romero were being dismissed without prejudice — meaning they can be refiled at a later time.

Repeated attempts to contact Jake Boazman of the New Mexico 9th Judicial District, prosecutor in the case; and Michael Gomez, Romero’s attorney, about why the charges were temporarily dismissed were unsuccessful.

Romero’s trial was set to begin Feb. 20, according to electronic court records.

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A patrol officer with the New Mexico State Police since May 2017, Romero was charged in March 2019 with four counts of causing or permitting a child to engage in sexual exploitation, child 13-18; as well as one count each of possession of a visual medium of sexual exploitation, child 13-18; and child solicitation by electronic device, child 13-18. Romero pleaded not guilty to each of the charges.

Dusty Francisco, a public information officer for the New Mexico State Police, said Wednesday Romero no longer works for the department as of May 4, 2019.

The charges stem from an alleged series of sexual conversations between Romero and a then-16-year-old girl on Facebook messenger some time between Feb. 4 and March 8, 2019, according to documents filed in Chaves County Magistrate Court.

The conversations allegedly continued even after the girl admitted she was under the age of 18, according to court documents. Romero also allegedly requested and received several photos and one video, where the girl was either naked or exposing her private parts.

Raul Valdez, a detective investigating the case, said when the charges were announced in March 2019, Romero and the girl never met in person.

Law enforcement was notified in March 2019 after the girl’s mother discovered nude photos of her daughter sent from her daughter’s phone via Facebook messenger.

Romero turned himself over to the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, which was conducting a criminal investigation into the case.

When he was brought into the Sheriff’s Office for questioning about the conversations, Romero said he thought the girl was 16 or 17 years old, according to court documents. He claimed that the girl sent the photos to him but he had not asked for them.

When challenged about that claim, Romero admitted to asking for pictures of the girl’s private parts, that he knew it was wrong to ask a person under age 18 for nude photographs and that he had since deleted his Facebook account, according to court documents.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.