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Woman gets eight year sentence to state prison

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FARMINGTON — An Aztec woman accused of 25 criminal charges across seven separate cases in district court will serve eight years in state prison following a May hearing and was ordered to pay more than $13,000 in restitution to a business she defrauded.

Chief District Court Judge Karen Townsend on May 20 sentenced Brittany Lanier, 31, to eight years in the New Mexico Department of Corrections with five years of probation during a hearing in Aztec District Court.

Lanier got a 14-year sentence, but Judge Townsend suspended all but eight years. If Lanier violates her probation after her eventual release, however, she could serve the remaining six years in prison, according to court documents.

Fifteen felonies and the six petty misdemeanors in district court were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. A misdemeanor count of making a false police report in Farmington Magistrate Court was also dismissed.

Shane Goranson, Lanier's attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.

Lanier was convicted of third-degree felony counts of computer access with intent to defraud or embezzle and false application, claim or proof along with fourth-degree felony counts of fraud and possession of a controlled substance, according to court documents.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said the judge made a good decision on Lanier's prison sentence.

O'Brien added it can be difficult, if not impossible, for restitution to be paid, so a long prison sentence is a good solution.

Lanier faced a total of 19 felony counts and six petty misdemeanor counts in district court before signing her plea agreement on May 8.

The defendant had been accused of defrauding Special K Fitness in Farmington of more than $13,000, filing multiple false insurance claims for more than $21,000 and also faced multiple methamphetamine possession charges, according to The Daily Times archives.

Lanier was convicted of using a computer and a Special K Fitness credit card to make about $6,900 in Amazon purchases. The items fraudulently purchased include a $999 pair of boots, a wedding dress and a wedding ring.

Owner Kim Noyce told The Daily Times that she thanked the DA's office for their work and is happy to see the cases against her former employee settled.

"My primary intent from the beginning was to keep her from doing this to anyone else and, at least while she is in prison, that should hold true," Noyce said.

Lanier is ordered to pay Noyce $13,145.75 in restitution as part of the plea agreement, including on charges that were dismissed.

The defendant was also convicted of filing a $20,000 false insurance claim with Progressive Home Advantage. She opened a policy on Aug. 9, 2019 to insure an apartment, then tried to file a claim for a fire that occurred on Aug. 1.

Lanier was convicted of defrauding a Farmington State Farm insurance agency of $1,575 for a motel room she occupied following the apartment fire.

The possession of a controlled substance convictions stem from an Nov. 8 arrest when a Farmington police officer found a small, rock-like substance in a bag the officer believed was meth.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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