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Rio Arriba County sheriff is sentenced to 3 years in prison

December 2, 2021 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday after being convicted on two felony counts of aiding a felon and intimidating a witness in 2017.

Jurors in 1st Judicial District Court deliberated about five hours before reaching the verdicts Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Lujan faced a prison term of up to 4 ½ years.

A judge denied a request by Lujan’s attorney Thursday that his client remain free pending an appeal.

The 60-year-old Lujan was taken into custody by Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies.

The verdict came after a three-day trial for Lujan, which was his second on the charges that stem from allegations he helped former Española City Councilor Philip Chacon evade police following a high-speed chase.

The jury found Lujan guilty of harboring a felon for helping conceal Chacon as police were searching for him.

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Lujan also was found guilty of bribery of a witness for threatening one of his deputies to prevent him from revealing Chacon’s whereabouts to other officers.

The first trial in the case ended in a mistrial in June after jurors deadlocked.

Lujan still is awaiting trial on three misdemeanor counts of resisting, evading or obstructing an officer in another case involving Chacon in 2000.