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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Kewa Pueblo Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Misdemeanor Assault Charge

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women

ALBUQUERQUE –Ambrose Atencio, 51, a member and resident of Kewa Pueblo, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to a misdemeanor information charging him with assaulting an Indian woman.

Atencio was arrested on Sept. 25, 2014, on a criminal complaint charging him with assaulting an intimate partner by strangulation.  According to the complaint, on Sept. 12, 2014, BIA officers responded to a report of assault on Kewa Pueblo in Sandoval County, N.M.  The complaint alleged that Atencio assaulted the victim, a Kewa woman, by striking her in the face and strangling the victim.  Atencio was indicted on Oct. 21, 2014, and charged with assaulting an intimate partner by strangulation.

During today’s proceedings, Atencio entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor information and admitted assaulting the victim by striking her with his hands on her face.  Atencio also admitted grabbing the victim’s throat.  As a result of the assault, the victim sustained bruises and contusions on her body, neck and facial area.

At sentencing, Atencio faces a penalty of up to 12 months in federal prison and up to five years of supervised release.  Atencio 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 Southern Pueblos Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Mott is prosecuting this 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 February 12, 2015