Suspect is owner of Rollet Smoke Shop in Kirtland

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FARMINGTON — A smoke shop owner is accused of assault after allegedly grabbing a female employee's hand and rubbing it on his genital area at the business.

Jaser Assi, 62, of Farmington, is accused of a third-degree felony count of assault with intent to commit a felony (criminal sexual penetration in the first, second or third degree) and a petty misdemeanor count of battery, according to court records.

Steve Murphy, Assi's attorney, said the allegations are false, and he looks forward to proving his client's innocence. Murphy added surveillance video footage from the business will show his client did nothing wrong.

Assi is accused of grabbing a female employee's hand and rubbing it on his genital area while he had a handgun "on his hip" at the Rollet Smoke Shop in Kirtland, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Assi is the owner of the Rollet Smoke Shop at 4276 U.S. Highway 64, according to Detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office.

The victim spoke to a deputy for the Sheriff's Office on Tuesday near the intersection of County Road 6800 and U.S. Highway 64 west of Kirtland to report the alleged incident.

She told the deputy it was her first day at work, and all the other employees except Assi had left by 5 p.m., according to court documents. Assi and the victim were sitting at a table at the time of the alleged incident, according to the affidavit.

The victim told the deputy she attempted multiple times to pull her hand away until it was free from Assi's grasp. Afterward, the victim asked if she could go to lunch and left the business.  

The victim told the deputy she was intimidated by Assi and said he had a handgun "on his hip."

A detective later visited the smoke shop and observed a handgun in the waistband of Assi's pants, the affidavit states.

Assi waived his first appearance in Aztec Magistrate Court and was released on his own recognizance.

His preliminary hearing is set for 1 p.m. on April 26.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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