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$7,500 Settlement for Arrest Without Probable Cause

by David M. Reutter

The City of Albuquerque, New Mexico, paid $7,500 to settle a lawsuit alleging police officers illegally seized, assaulted, arrested, and maliciously prosecuted Robert Alderete. His lawsuit also alleged the officers illegally searched his vehicle.

Alderete entered into a plea agreement on July 31, 2015, that allowed him to remain at liberty while awaiting sentencing of 0 to 3 years in prison. He was arrested on August 27, 2015, for a fraudulent check violation. At his October 19, 2015, sentencing hearing, the Court determined that there was probable cause for the new charge and that Alderete violated the terms of his release after hearing testimony from the arresting officer. He was then sentenced to four years as a habitual offender, with three years suspended in favor of supervised release.

Alderete later obtained a copy of the lapel video depicting an interview of the credit union employees by the arresting officer, Ignas Danius. That video showed that those employees said Alderete never tried to cash the check; he only asked for information to verify that the check was legitimate. With that information, Alderete moved the sentencing court to reconsider his sentence.

At shearing on that motion, the Court found Darius did not have probable cause to arrest Alderete. The Court's August 11, 2016, order granting the motion to reconsider required the State to follow the original sentencing agreement. Alderete was resentenced and released on August 24, 2016.

Alderete's civil rights complaint alleged Fourth Amendment violations and sought compensation for the emotional toll of serving 362 days in prison. The City of Albuquerque, on December 20, 2017, settled the lawsuit for $7,500. Alderete was represented by Albuquerque attorneys Frances C. Carpenter and Carey Bhalla.

See: Alderete v. City of Albuquerque, USDC, D. New Mexico, Case no. 1:17-cv-00500.

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Related legal case

Alderete v. City of Albuquerque



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