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Press Release

Deming Residents Sentenced to Lengthy Federal Prison Terms for Kidnapping and Firearms Convictions

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Jessie Hopper, Sr., and Polly Hopper were Prosecuted under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative for Kidnapping a Woman in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Transporting Her to Deming, New Mexico, where she was Repeatedly Sexually Assaulted

ALBUQUERQUE – This morning a U.S. District Court Judge sitting in Las Cruces, N.M., sentenced Jessie Hopper, Sr., 55, and Polly Hopper, 61, of Deming, N.M., to lengthy prison terms for their convictions on conspiracy, kidnapping and firearms charges.  Hopper, Sr. was sentenced to 366 months (30.5 years) in prison followed by five years of supervised release, while his sister, Polly Hopper, was sentenced to 292 months (24.3 years) in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

The sentences imposed on the Hoppers were announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, 6th Judicial District Attorney Francesca Martinez-Estevez, Special Agent Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry of the Phoenix Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas and Luna County Sheriff Jonathon Mooradian.

 “Jessie Hopper, Sr., and Polly Hopper, were both prosecuted under the federal ‘worst of the worst’ anti-violence initiative because of their extensive prior criminal histories, which included convictions for attempted murder, and the despicable nature of the violent crimes they were convicted of in this case,” said U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez.  “Through this initiative, the federal law enforcement community is working with its state, local and tribal partners to make New Mexico safer by taking violent and repeat offenders like the Hoppers off our streets for as long as possible.”

“The 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is proud of its role in bringing about the sentencings imposed today on Jessie Hopper, Sr., and Polly Hopper,” said 6th Judicial District Attorney Francesca Martinez-Estevez.  “Prosecutors from my office worked closely with local, county and state law enforcement officers to preserve the crime scene and gather the evidence that supported the federal convictions in this case, and our victim advocates supported the victim and her family in the aftermath of the victim’s traumatic experience.  Working together with our partners at the FBI, ATF and U.S. Attorney’s Office, we were able to bring justice to the victim.”

“Today’s sentencings send a strong message the FBI and its law enforcement partners will aggressively investigate and prosecute violent crime,” said Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division.   “The FBI would like to thank the U.S. Attorney's Office and the other federal, state and local agencies that worked closely together and made the successful resolution of this case possible.”

Hopper, Sr., Polly Hopper, and their co-defendant Jessie A. Hopper, Jr., 30, also of Deming, were arrested in June 2014, on a federal criminal complaint charging them with kidnapping and firearms charges.  The three defendants subsequently were charged with conspiracy and kidnapping in a six-count indictment filed in May. 2014.  The indictment also charged Hopper, Sr., and Hopper Jr., with brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, being felons in possession of firearms, and unlawfully possessing a sawed-off shotgun.

Hopper, Jr., entered a guilty plea to the five charges against him on Nov. 21, 2014.  At sentencing, he faces a maximum of life imprisonment on the kidnapping charges as well as a seven-year prison sentence for brandishing a firearm that must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the kidnapping charges.  Hopper, Jr., remains in federal custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

On Feb. 27, 2015, a federal jury returned a verdict finding Hopper, Sr., and Polly Hopper guilty on all charges against them after a five-day trial.  The evidence at trial established that Hopper, Jr., and Hopper, Sr., kidnapped the victim in Hot Springs, Ark., on May 8, 2014, with the assistance of Polly Hopper.  Hopper, Jr., handcuffed the victim and a firearm was brandished at the victim to force her to comply with Hopper, Jr.’s demands, including a demand that she telephone family members to assure them that she was voluntarily leaving Arkansas with Hopper, Jr.  On May 8 and 9, 2014, the defendants drove the victim from Arkansas to the defendants’ residence in Deming, where Hopper, Jr., and Hopper Sr., sexually assaulted the victim several times.

The three defendants initially were arrested by the New Mexico State Police on state charges on May 10, 2014.   They remained in state custody until they were transferred to federal custody on May 16, 2014, to face the charges in this federal case.  The state charges, which were filed by the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for the State of New Mexico, were dismissed in favor of federal prosecution.

ATF Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry said, “Taking violent criminals off the streets and putting them behind bars has always been a focus of ATF and our enforcement mission in New Mexico.   I commend the agents and officers who repeatedly risked their lives to remove these violent offenders from our communities.   I also wish to recognize the leadership of U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez and his office in their relentless prosecution of these violent offenders.”

“The cooperative effort between law enforcement agencies has made our communities safer,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.  “This case is a great example of how local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are working with State District Attorneys and the U.S. Attorney to prosecute violent criminals.  I cannot express my gratitude enough to all the agencies involved.”

“It is always encouraging when local, state and federal law enforcement partners work together for the good of our communities,” said Luna County Sheriff John Mooradian.  “When we share resources and intelligence, we truly get the upper hand on the criminal element.  My hope now is that the victim in this case was able to get the help and support necessary to move beyond this ordeal.”

This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the FBI, the Las Cruces office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New Mexico State Police and the Luna County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for the State of New Mexico.  The FBI in Little Rock, Ark., the Garland County (Arkansas) Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas also assisted in the investigation.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randy M. Castellano and Maria Y. Armijo of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.

The case against the Hoppers is being prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders based primarily on their criminal histories for federal prosecution.  Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.  Because New Mexico’s violent crime rates, on a per capita basis, are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community is collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates, including Luna County under this initiative.

Updated October 27, 2015