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Press Release

Acoma Pueblo Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Misdemeanor Assault Charge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women

ALBUQUERQUE – Kevin Bernard Joe, 41, a member and resident of Acoma Pueblo, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning in Albuquerque, N.M., to a federal misdemeanor information charging him with assaulting an Indian woman.

Joe was arrested on April 27, 2015, on a criminal complaint charging him with an assault charge.  According to the complaint, on March 23, 2015, the Acoma Pueblo Tribal Police Department was notified by the victim of an assault occurring on Acoma Pueblo in Cibola County, N.M.  The complaint alleged that Joe assaulted the victim, an Acoma woman, by punching her multiple times with a closed fist causing injuries to her face, head, and upper body.  The victim sustained a laceration above her left eye which needed approximately seven to eight stitches.  Joe was subsequently indicted on May 12, 2015, and charged with assaulting an intimate partner resulting in substantial bodily injury.

During today’s proceedings, Joe entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor information and admitted assaulting the victim by punching her with a closed fist multiple times on her head and body.  Joe also acknowledged that his assault caused the victim to suffer a laceration to the left eye that required medical attention.

At his sentencing, Joe faces a statutory maximum penalty of 12 months in federal prison and up to one year of supervised release.  Joe has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Laguna/Acoma Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services and the Acoma Pueblo Tribal Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Raquel Ruiz-Velez is prosecuting the case.

The case was brought pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department's on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.

Updated June 29, 2015