ROOSEVELT COUNTY, N.M. (KAMR/KCIT) – According to court documents filed at the start of November, arrest warrants were issued for both the former director of the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home and a local contractor after years of allegedly fraudulently using the charity’s accounts and large construction projects to pay for personal home renovations.
Arrest warrants and criminal complaints filed in the Roosevelt County Magistrate Court detailed that the former NMBCH director, 71-year-old David Randall “Randy” Rankin, was accused of 28 counts of fraud, one count of forgery, and one count of disposing of stolen property that allegedly occurred between the years of 2018 and 2021.
Meanwhile, court documents detailed that 46-year-old Jose Lopez was accused of 30 counts of fraud, three counts of attempted tax evasion, and one count of acting as a contractor without a license that allegedly occurred between 2017 and 2021.
These charges come after NMBCH officials filed an embezzlement and fraud report with the Portales Police Department in January 2022, according to a filed criminal complaint. According to the complaint, Rankin allegedly put multiple properties in his name that had been donated to the NMBCH, and then wrote checks to have the properties remodeled.
Further, the complaint said that in the course of the investigation, it was discovered that among other items, Rankin allegedly overused and added sections to board minutes, and used funds from NMBCH to renovate his wife’s family home in Cloudcroft. Rankin allegedly used NMBCH funds to pay Lopez both for renovation work that had and had not been done at multiple properties, including in Portales, Alamogordo, Cloudcroft, Estancia, and Roosevelt County land. The complaint also alleges that Lopez and Rankin forged faulty receipts and invoices that obscured how much money had been paid and to whom.
The complaint said that from 2018 to 2021, Rankin allegedly used large NMBCH construction projects, such as demolition and construction for an Estancia property that had burned down and other renovations for an Alamogordo property, to instead pay Lopez to work on his personal properties in Portales and Cloudcroft. The complaint also alleged that Rankin requested funds be transferred out of NMBCH investment and endowment accounts and into the main bank account, which were then allegedly used to pay Lopez for the renovations.
Additionally, the complaint said that while Lopez was hired as a contractor for the NMBCH construction projects, he did not have a New Mexico’s contractor’s license, and there was no record of any contracts between Lopez and his businesses for any of the projects. Lopez also allegedly used “at least” three different business names since first starting jobs for the NMBCH.
While he was not considered an official employee of the NMBCH, the complaint alleges that Lopez was still allowed to make purchases on NMBCH charge accounts while not being required to submit purchase receipts in the same way that NMBCH employees were.
Among Lopez’s other charges, court documents allege that Lopez also did not submit tax returns for the years 2016-2021 despite having collected a total income in that time of more than $4.45 million.
Rankin was fired from his position at the NMBCH in January 2022, on the same day the criminal complaint noted that the embezzlement and fraud report was filed. Court records showed that Rankin filed a lawsuit against NMBCH for wrongful termination in March 2022. He cited purchases made from his personal bank account to Lopez and other hardware stores that totaled more than $70,000 and claimed they were for NMBCH projects, and asked the court to order NMBCH to reimburse him.
Court records noted that Lopez was arrested on Nov. 7. Rankin’s attorney made an appearance on his behalf on Nov. 7, but as of Nov. 10, there had not yet been a record of Rankin being arrested.
This is a developing story. MyHighPlains.com will update this article as new information becomes available.
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