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Justice News

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

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Santa Clara Pueblo Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Assault Charges

ALBUQUERQUE – Leon J. Tafoya, 19, a member and resident of Santa Clara Pueblo, N.M., pleaded guilty in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., this morning to assault charges.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Tafoya will be sentenced within the range of five to seven years in federal prison.

Tafoya was arrested on Sept. 16, 2014, on a criminal complaint charging him with assault with a dangerous weapon, assault resulting in serious bodily injury, and aggravated assault while in Santa Clara Pueblo in Rio Arriba County, N.M.  According to the criminal complaint on Sept. 7, 2014, officers of the Santa Clara Pueblo Tribal Police Department responded to a call reporting an assault.  Tafoya was arrested after stabbing another member of the Santa Clara Pueblo Tribe three times and assaulting a tribal police officer who was responding to the stabbing.  The complaint asserted that Tafoya attempted to gain control of the officer’s service weapon while the officer was placing Tafoya under arrest.

During today’s change of plea hearing, Tafoya entered a guilty plea to a felony information charging him with possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.  Tafoya admitted that on Sept. 7, 2014, in Rio Arriba County he possessed a firearm and assaulted a victim by displaying that firearm in a threatening manner.  Tafoya also admitted to assaulting another victim resulting in serious bodily injury to that victim.

Tafoya has been in federal custody since his arrest.  He remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Santa Fe office of the FBI, the Northern Pueblos Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services, and the Santa Clara Pueblo Tribal Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Novaline D. Wilson.

Updated May 7, 2015