Mescalero Apache Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Arson Charge
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women
ALBUQUERQUE – Theodore George Torres, 27, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache Nation who resides in Mescalero, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to an arson charge. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Torres will be sentenced to 36 months in prison followed by not less than three years of supervised release. Torres also will be required to pay restitution in the amount of $86,299.42 to the victim of his criminal conduct.
Torres was arrested on Dec. 15, 2015, on a federal criminal complaint charging with arson and was indicted on that same charge on April 21, 2016. According to court filings, Torres set fire to a residence of a Mescalero Apache woman. Torres committed the crime on Oct. 30, 2014, on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation in Otero County, N.M. The complaint states that Torres was arrested on related tribal charges on Dec. 11, 2014, and remained in tribal custody until his arrest on the federal arson charge.
During today’s proceedings, Torres pled guilty to the indictment and admitted that on Oct. 30, 2014, he maliciously set fire to a dwelling located in Mescalero Apache Reservation. Torres acknowledged that the fire caused $86,299.42 worth of damage.
Torres has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Mescalero Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron O. Jordan of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.
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.