Ruidoso Downs Mayor Pro-Tem Shane Walker suspended from office after embezzlement arrest
Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect that Shane Walker is registered as the owner of Walker Mechanical, according to state records.
RUIDOSO DOWNS ― Ruidoso Downs City Councilor and Mayor Pro-Tem Shane Walker faces a felony embezzlement charge and was suspended from office after he was arrested by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office Wednesday on a warrant issued Tuesday by Lincoln County Magistrate Court.
Walker was suspended from his capacity as city councilor via "emergency action" according to a statement from the office of Mayor Dean Holman, and further action was planned at the next city council meeting May 22.
"Mayor Dean Holman, chief executive officer of the City of Ruidoso Downs has taken immediate action to temporarily suspend Mayor Pro-Tem Shane Walker from his duties as Mayor Pro-Tem of the City of Ruidoso Downs," read the statement.
He was charged with embezzlement (more than $20,000), a second-degree felony, court records show after an investigation tied to work Walker agreed to in November 2022 but never completed.
Walker, who serves as mayor pro-tem on the city council, did not respond to a request for comment from the Ruidoso News.
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Walker was arrested Wednesday, records show, and was scheduled for his first appearance at 10:30 a.m., May 18 before Lincoln County Magistrate Judge Katie Lund.
Walker is owner of Walker Mechanical, according to business records from the New Mexico Secretary of State.
On Nov. 4, 2022, Walker received a check for $23,000 and another for $6,777 on Nov. 16, 2022, from Ruidoso Custom Builders for which Walker was serving as a subcontractor, according to an affidavit signed by Ruidoso Police Detective Matt Christian.
A staff member at Ruidoso Custom Builders told police the checks were for material and labor for a job that was never started, records show, providing copies of the two checks to investigators.
Five months after Walker allegedly received the first check, the company told police it confirmed with ACityDiscount.com, where Walker said he’d ordered the materials, that the transaction never occurred.
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Ruidoso Custom Builders contacted Walker April 6, police said, advising that if the company did not receive the funds back or a payment plan by April 21, it would proceed with embezzlement charges against Walker and a claim against his HVAC license bond.
Staff at Ruidoso Custom Builders also provided text messages to police from between October 2022 and April 2023, records show, indicating Walker knew about the job and its requirements.
Police said when Walker was contacted, he contended he’d made a “civil agreement,” read the affidavit, with owner of Ruidoso Custom Builders Bill Roach.
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Walker told investigators he had text messages showing Roach agreed to deduct costs owed to Walker from a job on Roach’s home.
Walker refused to bring the messages to the Ruidoso Police Department, the affidavit read, telling police to contact his attorney.
Police later contacted Roach, the report read, who denied that any verbal agreement about payment or reimbursement existed.
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“Roach also assured me the payments for the job at his personal residence were kept completely separate,” read the affidavit signed by Christian.
Ruidoso Downs City Councilor Judy Miller said Walker should be removed from office amid the ongoing court case, arguing no one with a felony conviction can serve on the governing body.
“My first reaction is that we need to do something about it. He’s our mayor pro-tem and he signs our checks,” she said. “My idea is to dismiss him from that position and see how the court case goes. If he is convicted, he cannot serve as a city councilor.
“I’m shaken up. It’s kind of scary.”
Adrian Heddencan be reached at 575-628-5516,email@example.com or@AdrianHedden on Twitter.