- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 4, 2014

ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation searched the home of Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas Rodella on Wednesday - just hours after he lost his bid for re-election.

Agents carried out a search warrant on Rodella’s home Wednesday morning in connection with a federal investigation, FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said. Fisher declined to give any details.

The search of Rodella’s home is connected to the arrest in March of Michael Tafoya, Rio Arriba County Sheriff spokesman Jake Arnold said. He was arrested on charges of aggravated assault of a peace officer and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. No attorney is listed for Tafoya, 26.

The case was dismissed by prosecutors two weeks later.

Rodella himself detained Tafoya, according to Magistrate Court documents on the case. Rodella was driving a Jeep, with his son as a passenger, on a county road on March 11 when Tafoya, driving a green Mazda with a temporary license plate, pulled out and almost hit Rodella’s vehicle, according to a deputy’s statement of probable cause for charging Tafoya.

The sheriff then saw the Mazda almost rear-end another vehicle, document said. Without explaining whether the Mazda driver stopped on his own or Rodella pulled him over, the report said the Rodella “presented his badge” to the Mazda driver and identified himself as sheriff.

“The male subject fled with Sheriff Rodella chasing the Mazda,” the report said.

A statement issued Wednesday night by a law firm representing Rodella said the sheriff “maintains he handled this encounter lawfully and is innocent of any wrongdoing in this matter.”

Rodella lost the Democratic nomination for Rio Arriba County sheriff on Tuesday by coming in second to challenger James Lujan by 200 votes. Lujan is a former deputy Rodella once fired.



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