A Los Alamos National Laboratory employee is facing a felony drug-trafficking charge and 10 petty misdemeanor counts of patronizing prostitutes after police say he admitted to exchanging sex with an Española woman for money, narcotics and items such as bunk beds and car tires.
According to a statement of probable cause filed in Los Alamos County Magistrate Court, Bruce Barrus, 74, told a Los Alamos police detective he gave a woman money to buy drugs — and purchased substances for her — but said he was only trying to help her “and wanted her off drugs and in treatment for her addiction.”
Barrus is scheduled to make his first appearance in Magistrate Court on Dec. 10.
In a phone interview with the New Mexican on Friday, Barrus said he had not yet seen the court summons or any other documents related to the case.
Los Alamos lab spokesman Matt Nerzig confirmed Barrus is employed at the lab but did not provide Barrus’ title or position. A LinkedIn profile shows a man named Bruce Barrus works at the lab as a software developer.
Detective Ryan Wolking wrote in the statement of probable cause, filed Thursday, that Barrus admitted during an interview earlier this month that he had sex with the Española woman 10 times in exchange for money, necessities, heroin and crack cocaine.
During his investigation, Wolking also found Barrus had transferred a car to the woman.
“Bruce explained he had not always received something for the money he provided but he got a ‘promise’ of sexual activity,” the detective wrote.
The statement said Barrus told Wolking the woman would purchase heroin with the money he gave her and then bring the drug to him, and he would “provide the heroin to her in order for her not to overdose.”
The investigation into Barrus began in June, when Wolking spoke with a woman who said she believed Barrus had been paying her daughter and her daughter’s friend for sex “for years,” according to the statement.
Barrus characterized the woman as “mentally ill” and said she previously threatened him.
“But let’s just say that I have in my posession information that I could [use to] charge criminal fraud against [her daughter],” he said. “I don’t necessarily intend to do that, but the fact is that her mother is trying to destroy both me and [her daughter’s friend].”
The 10 charges Barrus faces of patronizing a prostitute are related to the allegations involving the daughter’s friend.
The mother said she discovered text messages between her daughter and Barrus on her own cellphone after her daughter borrowed the device.
“In the messages Bruce and [the woman] discuss purchasing heroin in various amounts and Bruce is funding these transactions with hundreds of dollars,” Wolking wrote.
According to the statement, one of the text messages to the woman from Barrus said, “I am bringing the rotisserie chicken, the frozen veggies and the yeast rolls, plus 0.8 grams of black over to your house now.”
The woman also sent a text to Barrus asking him to get her “60 of white.”
Barrus acknowledged during the police interview that the woman meant $60 worth of crack cocaine, the detective wrote.
The money was for things like phone bills, insurance and rent, but he supposed it did go to drugs, he said, because he could see the effects on the women.
“I was actually trying … to help both of them, the wrong way, knowing some of it was going to drugs,” Barrus said in an interview Friday. “In my mind, I just thought it was the lesser of the two evils, if you will, to provide the money for them so they don’t go out and steal or rob or commit other crimes to get it.”
He said he “was not going to comment” on whether he ever had a sexual relationship with either of the women.
The maximum penalty for a petty misdemeanor is six months in jail and a fine of no more than $500. A second-degree felony conviction carries a prison sentence of nine years.