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

Prosecutors: Inmate faces possible 100-plus years

Clovis man accused of stealing jewelry while on furlough from jail


April 19, 2018

CLOVIS — Jewelry thieving, jail escape, drug trafficking and smuggling — that’s a lot to accomplish in less than a day, but a Clovis man is charged with that and more after returning late from a court-approved furlough last month.

Brandon Wagner, 33, was arraigned this week on new felony charges of shoplifting and aggravated assault on a health care worker, the latest in a slew of felony charges emerging after he returned over 16 hours late to the Curry County jail following a March 27 plea conference.

After the plea, he was facing just over seven years in prison for identity theft, forgery and fraudulent use of a credit card.

Now he could be sentenced to up to 111.5 years in prison, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover.

Judge Drew Tatum had approved a five-hour furlough after Wagner’s pleading. Wagner had said he wanted to visit his family before being committed and promised to return by 6 p.m. that day.

But he didn’t return until close to 11 a.m. the next day, during which time he is accused of stealing more than $5,000 in rings from Zales Jewelers at the North Plains Mall and conspiring to smuggle suboxone and heroin into the jail, records show. Jail staff anticipated the smuggling scheme through monitoring inmate phone calls, and following his intake observed Wagner removing drugs from his body cavity and swallowing them, according to a criminal complaint.

“Wagner acknowledged that he was ‘a couple of hours late.’ I told him that was between him and the judge but that my concern was him taking narcotics into the facility,” Curry County Sheriff Investigator Glenn Russ wrote in an arrest warrant affidavit. “Wagner responded by saying, ‘That’s crazy.’”

Jail staff transferred Wagner that night to a local hospital for “monitoring and treatment,” but he was there observed to be “disruptive and violent,” Russ wrote.

“It was (in his hospital room) that I saw blood on the blinds and ceiling tiles,” he wrote. “At one point he pinched off an intravenous tube and it filled with blood.”

Meanwhile, investigators pinned Wagner for their suspect in a shoplifting incident at the mall during the night of his self-extended furlough.

Clovis Police Detective David Sandoval wrote in an arrest warrant affidavit that eight wedding rings valued at $5,572 were stolen that evening, and that an employee positively identified Wagner from a photo lineup.

Wagner is in the Department of Corrections serving time from his plea agreement sentence, and is scheduled back in Curry County for court appearances on the new charges in August.

Defense attorneys listed for Wagner did not immediately respond Wednesday afternoon to requests for comment.

Tatum declined comment on the pending cases.


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