WyBETT
                             Wyomingites for a Better Economy Today and Tomorrow
WyBETT   Wyomingites for a Better Economy Today and Tomorrow
 
 Gambling Habit Led to Holdup

by Karl F. Moffatt

The lawyer representing a 61 year-old Alcalde woman charged with robbing a Tesuque Indian casino last week claims clients such as his are robbing and committing other crimes to support their gambling habits.

I've had four cases in one year where people committed crimes because of gambling, that's outrageous," said Albuquerque Attorney Lee McMillian. "Gambling is sucking the economy of New Mexico dry and they're targeting the poor and uneducated who can least afford to lose and it's obscene."

McMillian represents Loretta Martinez of Alcalde who was charged Monday with armed robbery after she allegedly confessed to robbing the Big Rock Casino in Tesuque a week earlier.

McMillian said Martinez recently separated with her husband of 40 years over her gambling and money problems, had taken out a second mortgage on her home and had borrowed heavily from relatives.

Furthermore, Martinez's mother died this winter and on top of that Martinez lost her job at the Cities of Gold Casino in Pojoaque in February in a dispute over her gambling, McMillian said. Martinez, a self described gambling addict, had showed up for work one night and later asked to go home because of an upset stomach, McMillian said.

Martinez then stopped in the lounge for a cup of tea and played a slot machine which paid off with a $25,000 jackpot, McMillian said.

The casino management cut her a check and took her photo as is customary with winners and she went home happy, McMillian said.

But the next day the casino called her and demanded the check back after accusing her of winning it while on duty which is
apparently against the rules, McMillian said.

Martinez refused and the casino instead stopped payment on the check and fired her from her job, McMillian said.

"Imagine she dropped thousands of bucks into the place and on her first chance to recoup any of that, they cheat her out of it," McMillian said.

Martinez then hired McMillian to fight her case in court but McMillian noted that her only real recourse was through tribal court where the cards were stacked against his client.

"They literally laughed in my face while I was trying negotiate for her," he said. "They said so sue us."

Pojoaque Governor Jake Villa real couldn't be reached for comment.

Martinez then became increasingly distraught and on the night of the robbery was visiting her mother's grave at the Rosario Cemetery in Santa Fe where she was considering suicide with the .357-Magnum caliber handgun she was carrying.

"Then she had a revelation," McMillian said. "She's going home and stops at the Camel Rock to use the restroom and decides to rob the place. Face it, she's clearly had a nervous breakdown."

A surveillance camera caught Martinez in the act and her photo was distributed to local newspapers and television stations. She was later identified after agents received two tips.

Martinez subsequently turned herself in and confessed to the robbery, turned over the pistol and $5,100 in cash and has since joined Gamblers Anonymous following her release pending trial by Federal Magistrate Don Svet, McMillian said.

Martinez faces up to a mandatory 2.5 years in prison if she pleads guilty to the charge and receives all the breaks afforded in the federal sentencing system which limits a judge's sentencing discretion.

"But I'm going to try an effect a humane solution with the U.S. Attorneys Office, " he said. "A lot of this is now going to comedown to politics and if not then we'll plead temporary insanity and maybe we can get her off."

Rio Grande Sun p.1
Espanola, New Mexico 87532
Thursday, May 1 1997