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Rio Arriba County sheriff is convicted on 2 felony counts

December 2, 2021 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan was convicted Wednesday on two felony counts of aiding a felon and intimidating a witness in 2017.

Jurors in the 1st Judicial District Court deliberated only about five hours before reaching the verdicts.

The 60-year-old Lujan declined comment after the verdicts were read. He remains free pending his sentencing hearing Thursday and prosecutors said Lujan is facing up to 4 ½ years in prison.

The verdict came after a three-day trial for Lujan, which was his second on the charges that stem from allegations he helped former Española City Councilor Philip Chacon evade police following a high-speed chase.

The first trial in the case ended in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked.

The jury found Lujan guilty of harboring a felon for helping conceal Chacon as police were searching for him.

Lujan also was found guilty of bribery of a witness for threatening one of his deputies to prevent him from revealing Chacon’s whereabouts to other officers.

Lujan still is awaiting trial on three misdemeanor counts of resisting, evading or obstructing an officer in another case involving Chacon in 2000.