Man accused of stealing bulldozer in Farmington

Steve Garrison
Manual Sandoval

FARMINGTON – A 57-year-old San Juan County man is accused of stealing a bulldozer from a Farmington business.

Manuel Sandoval was charged Dec. 9 in Farmington Magistrate Court with felony larceny, receiving stolen property and fraud on allegations he stole a bulldozer from Exterran in September.

Sandoval's attorney, Eric Morrow, said Friday his client was falsely accused.

"There was an investigation conducted by a private investigator, who has compelling evidence that it was actually stolen by another employee," Morrow said.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said the case remains under investigation.

Sandoval was booked Thursday into the San Juan County Adult Detention Center, but was released without bond, according to Morrow.

A Farmington police officer was dispatched Sept. 21 to Exterran's office at 1280 Troy King Road after receiving reports of a stolen vehicle, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Exterran employee Robert Elliot told the officer an S185 Bobcat bulldozer valued at $25,000 was stolen from the property on Sept. 14. He said an employee claimed he saw the bulldozer being loaded onto a trailer and driven off the property, but the employee was unable to identify the suspect, the affidavit states.

On Nov. 10, the missing bulldozer was reported stolen to the Del Norte Police Department in Colorado by Jonathon Medina, according to the affidavit. Medina told police he purchased the bulldozer for $13,000 from his wife's uncle, identified as Manuel Sandoval.

Medina said he called a Bobcat retailer after purchasing the bulldozer when he noticed it had an unusual instrument panel. The retailer notified him the bulldozer had been reported stolen, the affidavit states.

Sandoval was interviewed at Exterran on Nov. 11, according to the affidavit. He told detectives he purchased the bulldozer from a friend during the last week of September, but could not provide officers with the friend's phone number or address.

Officers note in the complaint it appears Sandoval conspired with another suspect to steal the bulldozer, but that suspected has not been identified.

Morrow said Sandoval waived his right to a preliminary examination hearing. An arraignment date has not been set, according to court records.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.