Ex-deputy reaches plea deal


December 7, 2017

CLOVIS — A former Curry County sheriff's deputy - whose activities led prosecutors to dismiss dozens of unrelated criminal cases - pleaded no contest Wednesday to tampering with public records.

Brandon Nolen, 31, who lives near Tucumcari, will have all charges dismissed if he successfully completes 18 months of supervised probation, officials said.

Nolen was arrested in June and charged with perjury, possession of a controlled substance, and tampering with public records. The first two charges were dismissed through the plea agreement.

The plea agreement also requires Nolen to surrender or resign his commission as a law enforcement officer.

Nolen had been employed with the sheriff's office about nine months before being terminated from the position in April.

A March 20 traffic stop resulted in his charges. Investigators alleged then that Nolen took about four grams of methamphetamines obtained during the stop and kept it for personal use, while claiming in sworn court documents to have placed it with evidence. He tested positive for amphetamines on a urinalysis days after the stop, court records show.

"This is a sad day," Curry County Sheriff Office Chief Investigator Sandy Loomis said in court Wednesday.

Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover said the deal was reached based on several factors, including Nolen's "complete lack of criminal history," the strength of the state's case and "the effect of a lengthy trial on this matter."

"This is a young man who I believe became addicted to a controlled substance and made a horribly bad decision," Stover said after the hearing. "He's going to pay for it in that he's lost his career and he's going to do his probation."

Nolen's attorney Michael Garrett emphasized Wednesday that there was "no adjudication of guilt" in the case.

"This is not a deferred sentence. This is a conditional discharge," he said. "The other two charges are dismissed. He is placed on probation, and if he successfully completes his probation this other charge is dismissed," Garrett said.

Stover confirmed Wednesday that more than 30 criminal cases were dismissed this summer due to credibility issues from Nolen's association with them in his time as a deputy. Stover said in June that prosecutors "certainly never want to take any case to court where there is even an appearance of a taint to the evidence."

District Attorney Andrea Reeb, who Stover said led negotiations of the plea agreement, also said in June that most of the cases dismissed were for possession and none involved serious injury.


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