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Former State Police officer sentenced to probation

Ricky Romero Jr. (Submitted photo)

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A former New Mexico State Police officer accused of soliciting and receiving sexually explicit images from an underage girl on social media has been sentenced to probation.

Judge Lisa Riley of New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District at an Aug. 25 hearing sentenced Ricky Romero Jr., 26, of Roswell to a prison term of three years, all suspended and to be served on supervised probation, on two criminal counts, according to court documents.

Romero faces an 18-month sentence on each of the two counts: child solicitation by electronic device, child 13-18; and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to court documents. The sentences will run consecutively — or one after the other.

In July, Romero pleaded guilty to the two criminal counts as part of a plea and disposition agreement, court documents state.

Michael Gomez, Romero’s attorney, later said Romero has received a conditional discharge on each of the two counts.

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According to a 2011 New Mexico Statute, 31-20-13, a conditional discharge allows an individual who is given a suspended sentence to enter a conditional plea and be placed on probation without the court making a formal adjudication of guilt.

Gomez said that upon successful completion of probation, Romero will not be forced to register as a sex offender.

As part of the agreement, five other charges: four counts of causing or permitting a child to engage in sexual exploitation, child 13-18; and one count of possession of a visual medium of sexual exploitation, child 13-18, were dismissed or reduced, Gomez said.

Jake Boazman of the New Mexico 9th Judicial District, prosecutor in the case, did not respond to repeated requests for comment before press time Friday.

A patrol officer with the New Mexico State Police for two years, Romero faced multiple criminal charges after an investigation determined he had requested and received several photos and one video of a then-16-year-old girl either naked or exposing herself.

According to court documents, Romero and the girl had been involved in sexual conversations with each other on Facebook messenger between Feb. 4 and March 8, 2019.

When the girl’s mother in March of 2019 came across the images and video on her daughter’s phone and saw they had been sent to Romero via Facebook messenger, she contacted the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, which then began an investigation.

Romero turned himself over to deputies and was subsequently arrested. He was later released on $10,000 unsecured bond.

After Romero was arrested, Raul Valdez, a detective investigating the case, said Romero and the girl never met in person.

A press release from the New Mexico State Police at the time of his arrest said upon learning of the investigation by the Sheriff’s Office, Romero was placed on paid administrative leave and an internal investigation was launched.

Romero has not worked at the State Police Department since May 2019, Dusty Francisco, public information officer with the State Police, said last March.

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

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