TAOS — Taos County’s new jail director and the director of an inmate health program are under investigation and have been placed on administrative leave, officials said.
Tammy Jaramillo, who oversees health care assistance programs for inmates and is the wife of County Manager Brent Jaramillo, also is the subject of a separate criminal investigation by the Taos County Sheriff’s Office into allegations of extortion, County Attorney Randy Autio said.
Autio confirmed internal investigations have opened into Jaramillo and jail director Karen De La Roche, who took the position in February. But he could not comment on the nature of the investigations, Autio said, citing “confidentiality of personnel proceedings.”
Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said his office and 8th Judicial District Attorney Marcus Montoya have been apprised of the allegations against Jaramillo, who also is a member of the Questa school board, but said he could not provide further details. Hogrefe said as far as he knew, De La Roche was not facing criminal allegations.
De La Roche did not respond to a request for comment.
Jaramillo said last week she was not aware of any criminal investigation but said she had filed complaints with the county prior to being placed on administrative leave.
“I’ll just say that I have several very serious complaints of a hostile work environment, including HIPAA violations and health and safety violations,” Jaramillo said, referring to a federal patient protection law. “I don’t want anything to be tainted, and I do think that the investigation at the end of the day will definitely favor what I have alleged.”
This is the second time in less than a year she has been accused of criminal wrongdoing.
In October, the Questa school board voted to ask the state auditor and attorney general to investigate Jaramillo and her husband over allegations of bribery and misconduct. The couple were accused of giving money to another board member to persuade him to cast his vote in favor of keeping a school open. Jaramillo and her husband denied the accusations, and the attorney general did not pursue an investigation.
Former Taos County jail director Nelson Abeyta was fired two years ago after two of his employees, Phillip Ortiz and Dominic Torrez, were charged with trafficking drugs to inmates. The 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office eventually dismissed the cases against the jailers without prejudice, meaning they can be refiled, and said pending cases against potential witnesses still being held at the jail would have to be resolved before the cases could move forward.
Brent Jaramillo said in January the investigation into drug trafficking in the jail was still active.