Rio Rancho Man Faces Federal Charges for Unlawful Firearms Possession and Drunk Driving in Santa Fe National Forest
ALBUQUERQUE – Paul Henry Ortega, 45, of Rio Rancho, N.M., made his initial appearance in federal court this morning on an indictment charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and driving while intoxicated. Ortega remains in federal custody pending arraignment and a detention hearing which have yet to be scheduled.
The indictment, which was filed on March 26, 2014, alleges that Ortega unlawfully possessed a firearm and ammunition on Aug. 5, 2012, in Rio Arriba County, N.M. At the time, Ortega was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of a felony offense. It also charges Ortega with the misdemeanor offense of driving while intoxicated. According to the indictment, Ortega allegedly drove a vehicle in the Santa Fe National Forest on Aug. 5, 2012, while under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
Ortega was arrested yesterday on an arrest warrant that issued when he failed to comply with a summons to appear in court on arraignment on the indictment.
If convicted, Ortega faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison on the firearms charge and up to a year in prison on the driving while intoxicated charges. The charges against Ortega are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Special Agent in Charge Robin L. Poague of the Southwestern Region of the U.S. Forest Service said, “Federal regulations authorize Forest Service officials to enter orders permitting Forest Service officers to issue federal violation notices for violations of the state motor vehicle code on National Forest System lands and roads. This ensures consistent enforcement of the motor vehicle code throughout the state and across agencies. The prosecution of Ortega on DUI charges was initiated pursuant to this authority.”
This case was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New Mexico State Police and the New Mexico Game & Fish and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.