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Justice News

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

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mescalero Apache Woman Pleads Guilty to Federal Assault Charges Arising out of Drive-By Shooting

ALBUQUERQUE – Julianna Rosynelle Venego, 28, a member and resident of the Mescalero Apache Nation, pleaded guilty this afternoon to two federal assault charges under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Venego and her brother Rufus Juan Lester, 22, were arrested in July 2013, based on a criminal complaint alleging assault with dangerous weapons charges.  In Oct. 2013, Venego was indicted on two counts of aiding and abetting assaults with dangerous weapons.  Lester was indicted in a separate case in Nov. 2013 and charged with eight counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.  According to court filings, Venego and Lester committed the offenses charged in the two cases on Nov. 24, 2012, when Venego drove a vehicle in which Lester was a passenger while Lester used two firearms to fire eight shots at a residence located within the Mescalero Apache Reservation. 

During today’s proceedings, Venego entered a guilty plea to both counts in the indictment and admitted driving Lester past a residence while he used two firearms to shoot at the residence.  She acknowledged that the residence was occupied by two adults and six children during the drive-by shooting. 

Venego was remanded into federal custody after entering her guilty plea and will remain detained pending her sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  At sentencing, Venego faces a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in prison.

Lester entered a guilty plea on May 16, 2014, to all eight of the assault charges in the indictment against him, and admitted assaulting the eight individuals who were in the residence when he fired shots at the residence.  Lester has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Lester will be sentenced to 66 months in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

            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.
Updated January 26, 2015