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Press Release

Brothers from Espanola Arraigned on Federal Conspiracy and Theft of Postal Property Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – This morning, Joseph Torrez, 24, and his brother Ivan Chavez, 18, both of Espanola, N.M., were arraigned on a two-count indictment charging them with conspiracy and theft of postal property offenses. Both men entered not guilty pleas during this morning’s proceedings.

Count 1 of the indictment, which was filed on Dec. 19, 2012, charges Torrez and Chavez with conspiracy to commit theft of postal property. Count 2 charges Torrez alone with theft of postal property. At the time of the offenses alleged in the indictment, Chavez was employed as a contract driver by the U.S. Postal Service in Rio Arriba, County.

The indictment alleges that Chavez conspired with Torrez to stage a robbery at a U.S. Post Office in Rio Arriba County. It further alleges that, during the staged robbery on Nov. 19, 2012, Torrez stole $7,651 in postal remittances from the Post Office. According to the indictment, Chavez reported the staged robbery and falsely claimed that he had been assaulted by the “robber,” when in fact no assault or robbery had been committed and, instead, Torrez committed a theft of postal property with Chavez’s assistance.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said that Torrez and Chavez were arrested on a criminal complaint on Nov. 27, 2012, after investigation revealed that the Nov. 19, 2012 robbery of the Fairview Station Post Office in Espanola was staged.

If convicted on the conspiracy charge, Torrez and Chavez each face a maximum penalty of three years of imprisonment. Torrez also faces a maximum penalty of three years of imprisonment if convicted on the theft charge. The two men are released on conditions of release and pretrial services supervision pending trial.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with assistance from the Espanola Police Department and the New Mexico State Police, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Cairns.

Updated January 26, 2015