- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Federal prosecutors will seek to dismiss charges against the son of a northern New Mexico sheriff after they were both arrested for allegedly roughing up a driver during an off-duty traffic stop, authorities said Wednesday.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez’s office said that prosecutors have filed a motion to dismiss charges against Thomas Rodella, Jr., after officials concluded he had a medical condition that may affect his cognitive ability.

Rodella and his father, Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas Rodella, were indicted this month for conspiracy to violate a motorist’s civil rights during the March encounter.

An indictment says the men engaged “in a high-speed pursuit and unreasonable seizure” of the driver, identified in the court papers only as M.T. The sheriff wasn’t in uniform when he chased down the motorist, jumped out of his personal SUV with a gun and shoved his badge in the motorist’s face, court papers said.

But prosecutors said the younger Rodella may lack the cognitive ability to form intent - which attorneys say they need to prove their case.

Both men have pleaded not guilty.

The case against Sheriff Rodella has led to calls for him to resign.

Lawyers for the indicted Rio Arriba Country sheriff accused Martinez of misconduct, saying he has a vendetta against their client and threatened him with arrest during a heated May meeting over U.S. Forest Service patrols in northern New Mexico.

Rodella also has asked New Mexico State Police to investigate Rio Arriba Country officials for fraud and embezzlement. Officials said Rodella is retaliating against them for demanding that he resign.

FBI agents raided Rodella’s home in June just hours after he lost the Democratic nomination for Rio Arriba County sheriff to challenger James Lujan by 200 votes. Lujan was a deputy Rodella had fired.

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Follow Russell Contreras at https://twitter.com/russcontreras .


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