Skip to main content
Press Release

Counselors, N.M., Man Sentenced To 46 Months In Federal Prison For Involuntary Manslaughter Conviction

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Harlen Sam, 34, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Counselors, N.M., was sentenced this afternoon to 46 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for his involuntary manslaughter conviction.

In Dec. 2012, Sam entered a guilty plea to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and admitted causing the death of two passengers in his vehicle on May 4, 2012, when he crashed while driving under the influence of alcohol.  The crash occurred on a dirt road about four miles east of the Ojo Encino Chapter House in Ojo Encino, N.M., which is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Court records reflect that, on May 4, 2012, Sam was driving a vehicle with four adult and five child passengers when he crashed the vehicle.  An elderly woman and a four-year-old boy died after being ejected from the vehicle during the crash.  In his plea agreement, Sam admitted he was driving while intoxicated when he crashed and caused the deaths of the two victims.  Sam also acknowledged that his blood alcohol level was .08 when his blood was drawn within three hours of the collision.

Sam has been in federal custody since his arrest on May 4, 2012.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Navajo Department of Public Safety and the New Mexico State Police, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle T. Nayback.

Updated January 26, 2015