The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Clovis man's sentence may be magnified


March 29, 2018

CLOVIS — A man facing more than seven years in prison following a plea agreement Tuesday may have magnified his sentence several times over after returning late from a court-approved furlough and attempting then to bring drugs into the jail, according to District Attorney Andrea Reeb.

Brandon Wagner, 33, was due at the Curry County Adult Detention Center by 6 p.m. Tuesday after Judge Drew Tatum approved a five-hour furlough starting that afternoon for him to visit his family, according to court records. He had pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft, forgery and fraudulent use of a credit card pertaining to two cases from last year.

After submitting his plea, Wagner asked Tatum that he be granted a short furlough to see his family, which had suffered a recent death, before returning to the jail.

Reeb said her office's prosecutor stood silent on that request, declining to oppose it on the basis that it was unlikely to be granted anyway.

"It would have been best for our office to just oppose the furlough, truthfully," Reeb said Wednesday. "I haven't seen a judge grant a furlough to go visit with family in a long time. Often we stand silent because we don't need to argue it, but we'll definitely be speaking up very loud and clear for future requests for furloughs if this is something judges will allow."

Tatum approved the request Tuesday and gave Wagner from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. that day to visit his family.

The deadline for his return came and went, and when Wagner still hadn't appeared at the jail the following morning Tatum approved a bench warrant for his arrest, records show.

A few hours later, around 11 a.m., Wagner finally presented himself at the jail and was discovered to have contraband on or in his person, Reeb said.

"He showed up today (Wednesday) and he had drugs in his 'cavity,' so now he'll be charged with trafficking or bringing drugs into the jail," she said, noting she didn't yet have particulars as to the quantity or type of drug.

Wagner might also be charged with escaping from jail, a second-degree felony with a penalty of nine years, since he was technically still in custody during the furlough and missed his return deadline by almost 18 hours, Reeb noted.

"It's definitely possible. We have to look at his intent and why he didn't come back in a timely fashion," she said.

Wagner also faces an eight-year enhancement for any new felony convictions based on three prior, one of which happens to be for attempting to escape from the jail in February 2010, according to court records.

"He's definitely upped the exposure considerably," Reeb said.

Tatum declined comment on the case.

Wagner's defense attorney Sandra Gallagher, who called the plea agreement "fair and equitable" but still a "substantial penalty," told The News that Wagner's sentence after Tuesday's hearing amounted to 7 1/2 years in custody and 2 1/2 years of supervised probation, not including credit for pre-sentence confinement or early release for good behavior.

Wagner was facing up to 40 years in prison prior to the plea agreement, Reeb said.

Now, he may face a comparable sentence again after the Tuesday-Wednesday incidents, she said.

Gallagher said she hadn't spoken to Wagner since the plea conference and didn't have more information on the ensuing developments.

"I have no idea if he has an explanation of if there were some exigent circumstances," she said. "That's up to the district attorney if they decide they want to press more (charges)."


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