DWI Suspect Reveals Alleged APD Officer and Lawyer Scheme

A video has emerged showing a DWI arrest in Albuquerque, New Mexico, suggesting a wider conspiracy involving local APD officers. The incident, caught on tape, involved a dialogue between the suspect and a local attorney. Now, the ACLU is representing the suspect, claiming he was a victim of extortion.

The incident took place on June 25, 2023, when Carlos Sandoval-Smith was pulled over for speeding by Officer Joshua Montano. Despite Montano’s initial accusations, no concrete evidence for reckless driving was found. Nevertheless, Sandoval-Smith was asked to exit his vehicle and undergo a series of field sobriety tests which he passed, but was still arrested. One of his attorneys, Taylor Smith, claims his client was then advised to contact a certain lawyer, Thomas Clear III.

The DWI cases previously handled by Clear were dismissed, and subsequently his office was raided by the FBI. Sandoval-Smith had visited his office and recorded a conversation with a paralegal that suggested improper conduct at the practice.

According to Taylor Smith, from ACLU New Mexico, his client was advised by Officer Montano to seek assistance from Clear’s office. Smith alleges the advice given was suggestive of wrongful legal practice, giving assurance that the issue would be swept under the carpet. Sandoval-Smith offered to make a financial settlement to have his record cleared, and after an 18-minute conversation, was quoted a fee of $8,500.

Sandoval-Smith immediately felt the interaction was inappropriate, and instead went to the public defender’s office, disclosed what had happened, and his account was then relayed to federal investigators. His case was among a number of DWI cases that were dropped due to the ensuing federal investigation, and his own charges were dismissed in January 2024. An FBI investigation into APD officers, including those frequently absent from court, is currently ongoing. To maintain public trust, the department is also conducting its own internal investigation.

The ACLU lawyer Smith emphasized the need for public safety and transparency in law enforcement and legal practice, denouncing any form of corruption or extortion.

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