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Former Los Alamos Residents File IPRA Complaint Against County

on November 16, 2017 - 6:34am
Los Alamos Daily Post

Former Los Alamos residents John and Cindy Fraser have filed a complaint against Los Alamos County Council and County Custodian of Records Barb Ricci in First Judicial District Court seeking to enforce the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA).

The complaint, filed Oct. 27, alleges the Frasers sold their home in Los Alamos in June to “escape then ongoing and escalating harassment by Los Alamos County employees”. It indicates that Attorney Hans Voss attempted to conduct a “pre-litigation investigation of facts alleged to him by the Frasers before filing a lawsuit based on those facts”, which, “if true constitute several abuses of process” by the County and contractors targeting the Frasers.

According to the complaint and attached copies of correspondence between Voss and Assistant County Attorney Kevin Powers, since May 15, Voss has been attempting to obtain records pertaining to work done by Dorie Biagianti Smith, a prosecutor under contract to the County.

Among the records requested under IPRA by Voss were copies of all quarterly status reports, monthly invoices from Aug. 30, 2016 through March 31, 2017 and written commemorations of consultations with County attorneys regarding policy direction for plea bargaining. He also requested records pertaining to legal or code enforcement issues related to two adjacent Arizona Street properties, one which belonged to the Frasers and one belonging to William and Christine Nackers. Voss also requested payroll records for William Nackers, a former Los Alamos Fire Department firefighter/paramedic for part of 2016 and all of 2017 to date.

The records described in the complaint appear to relate to an ongoing dispute between the Frasers and the Nackers, which appears to have begun in 2015. District Court records contain a letter from the Frasers to the Nackers raising several “issues” and giving them 10 days to respond in writing.

The Frasers claimed that a surveyor had determined they owned more than half of the driveway in front of the two homes and the letter demanded they stop using the Frasers’ part of the driveway. The letter also claimed a sewer line encroachment without easement onto the Frasers’ property, and disputed ownership of a wall to which a hose reel had been attached causing alleged damage.

The Frasers also complained about damage to fence fabric and installation of landscape plants along the fence line without consulting them. They also complained that the Nackers had installed outdoor lighting that they claimed was illuminating their property inside and out.

Ten days later, Christine and Williams Nackers asked the District Court for a restraining order against the Frasers. The application alleged trespassing, tampering with electricity, taking photos of the Nackers home, looking into their window at “very random hours of night”, staring “up towards children’s bedroom window and lurking”. It also mentioned “a very threatening letter”, presumed to be the March 14 letter. It claimed that John Fraser had destroyed their lives, their ability to feel safe in their own home or even go outside and that they were prisoners in their own home.

Judge Raymond Z. Ortiz issued a temporary restraining order March 23, 2016 against John Fraser and on May 10 issued a preliminary injunction ordering Fraser to abstain from “acting in an annoying and alarming manner”, shooting birds with a BB gun in the direction of the Nackers residence, running a diesel engine in the driveway for long periods of time and parking where his vehicle is blocking the Nackers garage door. The injunction also ordered Fraser to refrain from engaging in any conduct that would cause harm or abuse to the Nackers.

On May 21, 2016, the Frasers filed a complaint to quiet title, for ejectment and torts in District Court suing the Nackers September 2015 and that the Nackers “coveted” the property but were unwilling to offer him an acceptable fair market price. Fraser alleged that the Nackers posted a sign on their garage directing potential buyers to contact them as potential neighbors first and that they placed an ad on “designed and intended to discourage any other potential buyer” and to drive down Fraser’s asking price.

In September 2016, Judge Ortiz ordered the two cases consolidated, then Oct. 13, 2016, criminal charges of harassment and false report were filed in Los Alamos Municipal Court by Los Alamos Police Det. Matt Lyon. The harassment charge alleged that on May 11, 2016, Fraser pointed a video camera towards the Nackers after being advised by Judge Ortiz to take the video camera down. It alleges that May 13, 2016, Fraser left his diesel engine running for approximately four and a half hours, which he also was ordered to refrain from, and that May 31, 2016, Fraser sprayed chemicals on the Nackers property after being advised by Judge Ortiz not to annoy.

The false report charge alleged that Fraser reported a chicken coop violation June 22, 2016 but when Los Alamos Animal Control responded they found the Nackers to be in compliance with County’s rules.

Feb. 3, 2017, Voss sent a notice of tort claim to the County Council stating that Det. Lyon’s sworn statement of probable cause contains false statements regarding both the criminal charges.

“The filing of the criminal complaint is a malicious abuse of process initiated against Mr. Fraser by County Detective Lyon in collusion with County Firefighter William Nackers. As a result of this malicious abuse of process, Mr. Fraser has suffered extreme emotional distress, a suspension of his security clearance at Los Alamos National Laboratory and defamation of his reputation in the community and in his chosen employment,” the notice said.

March 13, Prosecutor Dorie Biagianti Smith filed a dismissal of the charges in Municipal Court stating that “after review of the file, further investigation and careful consideration, it appears that (Fraser) is currently restrained and enjoined from engaging in any conduct which causes or threatens harm or abuse to the alleged victims in this case”.

Meanwhile, the civil case continued in District Court until Aug. 14 when Judge Ortiz allowed a withdrawal of the claim agreed to by both parties because the Fraser’s house had sold. Sept. 13, the Frasers asked that the case be reopened alleging that payroll records for William Nackers presented to the Court at the initiation of the Nackers’ suit requesting free process were falsely represented and that the Nackers should be required to pay the filing fee for the case to the Court or have their case dismissed. The Nackers have responded that they presented payroll information to the Court Clerk and would have paid the filing fee if required.

Assistant County Attorney Kevin Powers declined to comment on the case Wednesday afternoon and referred the Los Alamos Daily Post to Sabrina Rodriguez Salvato, an associate attorney with Brennan and Sullivan who are handling the County’s self-insurance cases. Rodriguez Salvato said she is unable to comment on ongoing litigation.