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Justice News

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Zuni Pueblo Man Pleads Guilty to Domestic Assault by a Habitual Offender Charge

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Christopher T. Tsalate, 27, pleaded guilty this morning to a domestic assault by a habitual offender charge.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Tsalate will be sentenced to 14 months and 17 days in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

Tsalate, a member and resident of Zuni Pueblo, N.M., was arrested on Jan. 11, 2015, on an indictment charging him with domestic assault of an intimate partner by a habitual offender based on his two prior domestic violence convictions in the Pueblo of Zuni Tribal Court.

This morning, Tsalate pled guilty to the indictment and admitted assaulting the victim, his spouse, on May 7, 2014, in McKinley County, N.M.

Court records reflect that Tsalate previously was convicted on domestic violence charges before the Zuni Tribal Court in May 2010 and Oct. 2012.  The victim in this case was also the victim in both of the prior tribal court cases.

Tsalate remains on conditions of release at a half-way house pending his sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

 This case was investigated by the Zuni Pueblo Tribal Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Novaline Wilson. It 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 April 14, 2015