TAINTED PEANUT BUTTER
Shuttered NM plant resumes making peanut butter
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The eastern New Mexico peanut butter plant shuttered eight months ago after a salmonella outbreak is making nut butter again.
Sunland Inc. Vice President Katalin Coburn tells the Portales News-Tribune the company's products could be back on store shelves within a month.
The Food and Drug Administration shut the plant in September after its products were linked to 41 cases in 20 states. Most of those were linked to natural peanut butter the company made for Trader Joe's.
The shutdown of the country's largest organic peanut butter processor left many stores scrambling for months to find alternative natural peanut butters
The company processes Valencia peanuts, a sweet variety of peanut that is unique to the region and preferred for natural butters because it is flavorful without additives.
84-year-old NM woman indicted for drug trafficking
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - An 84-year-old Albuquerque woman on an oxygen tank has been indicted for drug trafficking.
KRQE-TV reports that Lillie Smith was recently indicted by a Bernalillo County grand jury for trafficking, conspiracy to commit trafficking, tampering with evidence and possession.
Court documents show the charges stem from a warrant served at her apartment in 2011.
Deputies suspected that the woman's son, Nathan Jones, was running a small drug operation out of her home. But the sheriff's office says deputies found cocaine and marijuana on Smith and she tried to stash the drugs during the investigation.
Court records show that Smith was arrested and has been released. Her son was also arrested. It was not known if either of them has a lawyer.
DRUG TRAFFICKING COUPLE
NM couple accused of prescription drug trafficking
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A Truth or Consequences couple is in custody for allegedly trafficking in prescription drugs.
Prosecutors say Michael Capps and his wife appeared in Las Cruces federal court Thursday morning on criminal complaints charging them with conspiracy and the unlawful distribution of the prescription painkillers oxymorphone and oxycontin.
They say 52-year-old Roberta Capps waived a preliminary hearing and entered a not guilty plea before being released on conditions of release pending trial.
Prosecutors say 52-year-old Michael Capps remains in custody pending a preliminary hearing and a May 29 detention hearing.
The couple was arrested Tuesday for allegedly selling quantities of the prescription drugs to a federal source on three occasions between last December and January.
If convicted in the case, prosecutors say the Capps each face up to 20-year prison sentences.
Santa Fe recognized for DWI arrests
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Santa Fe Police Department is being recognized as the best in the state for working to stop drunk drivers.
The New Mexico Traffic Safety Division and Safer NM Now selected the department this month as No. 1 out of about 70 for the way it used Operation DWI grant money.
Lanny Maddox of Safer NM Now says the Santa Fe Police Department was selected based upon productivity, funding management, report submissions and overall participation in the ODWI program.
Since January, Santa Fe Police have arrested 151 drunk drivers and seized 175 vehicles. In 2012, SFPD made 399 drunken driving arrests and seized 503 vehicles.
As part of its award, the department has been given a new portable breathalyzer.
NM doctor accused of threatening wife, killing cat
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) - A Los Alamos doctor is in custody for allegedly threatening his estranged wife with an ax and killing the family cat with a bow and arrow.
Los Alamos police say 42-year-old Pavel Mourachov is being held without bond on suspicion of aggravated assault against a household member with a deadly weapon and extreme cruelty to animals.
He was arrested Wednesday after leaving the Los Alamos Medical Center.
Medical Center officials said Thursday that Mourachov's medical privileges have been suspended.
The Los Alamos Monitor says Mourachov's wife claims he chased her with an ax at their home last September.
She also told police that Mourachov killed their cat earlier this month because he said it needed to be put down.
It wasn't immediately clear if Mourachov has an attorney yet.
Santa Fe police investigate fatal hit & run
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Authorities say a Chimayo man is dead after a hit & run accident in Santa Fe.
Santa Fe police identify the victim as 29-year-old Juan Lopez.
They say Lopez wasn't in a crosswalk when he was struck Thursday morning.
Police say they have located the vehicle involved and the driver is cooperating in the investigation.
They say the woman was on her way to work from Albuquerque to Espanola when she thought she hit a large dog in the road.
Police say it doesn't appear that the driver was impaired. Her name hasn't been released.
Testimony over in murder trial from rent dispute
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Testimony is over in the murder trial of a 54-year-old Santa Fe landlord charged in the shooting deaths of a tenant and her daughter's boyfriend.
Arthur Anaya's murder trial in the January 2012 killings of 51-year-old Theresa Vigil and 16-year-old Austin Urban began Tuesday.
The prosecution finished presenting its case on Wednesday, and the Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the defense then rested without calling any witnesses.
Jury deliberations were to follow closing arguments Thursday.
The prosecution says the killings followed a confrontation over $100 in late rent, while Anaya's defense attorney said Anaya acted in self-defense.
A police detective moving in to arrest Anaya four days after the killings testified that Anaya pointed a revolver at him and pulled the trigger but that it didn't fire.
AF general vows to protect quality of weapons work
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base says budget cuts are hitting the Albuquerque installation's staff and operations but that the safety, security and reliability of the weapons themselves won't be affected.
Maj. Gen. Sandra Finan (FIN'-an) says the center has laid off 47 civilian workers and restricted hiring while reducing acquisitions and deferring maintenance on non-emergency equipment and facilities.
However, the Albuquerque Journal reports that Finan told the Albuquerque Economic Forum on Wednesday that the center remains focused on its weapon work and that she won't let the quality of that work slip.
The center employs about 3,500 people and is the steward and logistics manager for the Air Force's nuclear arsenal.
Oil patch county paces NM population growth
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Census Bureau reports that Lea County, in the heart of southeastern New Mexico's bustling oil patch, was the fastest growing in the state last year but two-thirds of the counties lost population.
Lea County's population grew by 1.8% from 2011 to 2012. State demographer Jack Baker attributes much of that to the booming oil field economy
Sandoval County, which includes Rio Rancho, grew by 1% last year.
With New Mexico's economy still weak, the statewide population increased by a meager 0.3% from July 2011 to July 2012. All of the growth came from births, because more people left New Mexico than moved into the state, according to the federal agency's population estimates.
Baker said the migration loss is probably because people are looking for jobs elsewhere.
Arizona tribe claims bank mismanaged investments
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - The Hopi Tribe of northern Arizona claims its investments were mishandled by a national banking institute, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars.
The tribe filed its claims against Wachovia earlier this month with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. It is seeking more than $190 million in damages and penalties through arbitration.
The claims allege that Wachovia and its financial advisers concealed losses from the tribe, misrepresented the risk in investments and overcharged fees.
A spokesman for Wells Fargo & Co, which acquired Wachovia in 2008, said Thursday that the bank would present its side during an arbitration hearing.
Wells Fargo settled a case in 2011 that claimed Wachovia Capital Markets LLC misled investors to sell mortgage bonds in 2006 and 2007 to the Zuni Tribe of New Mexico.
SCHOOL ROOF-WIND DAMAGE
Wind blows off part of gym's roof at NM school
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) - A Los Alamos elementary school is closed after a windstorm blew off part of the roof of the school's gym.
The Los Alamos Monitor reports that the damage to Barranca Elementary School on Wednesday left insulation and roofing material throughout the school grounds and parking lot.
Some cars' windows were shattered and parking lot lamps were damaged.
No serious injuries were reported during the event which witnesses said lasted about two minutes though a fire official said some people got dust in their eyes.
Wednesday is a half-day at the school, and most of the students had been dismissed already.
Principal Pam Miller said the windstorm was "like a mini tornado." She says it sounded like a train was going by as the gym roof began peeling off.
SETTLED RESTAURANT BILL
NM man settles old restaurant bill after 16 years
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A man who couldn't pay a Valentine's Day date restaurant bill as a teen has return to pay his debt - sixteen years later.
KOB-TV reports that Matt Sanchez repaid owner Claus Hjortkjaer this month after the owner recently reopened his French restaurant Le Cafe Miche in Albuquerque.
The 30-year-old Sanchez says he took a date to the older restaurant as a 14-year-old to impress his girlfriend. But then he realized he didn't have enough money.
Sanchez says Hjortkjaer came in and lent the young Sanchez the money from his own pocket and promised that he wouldn't tell Sanchez's date.
When Sanchez got older and was able to repay, the restaurant closed.
Sanchez say when the restaurant reopened near his office this month, he found Hjortkjaer and gave him $100 - more than what was owed.
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