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Block Jr. attorney: Plea deal in works in burglary case

September 14, 2018

An attorney for Jerome Block Jr., a former state Public Regulation Commission member who stepped down in 2011 after pleading guilty to misusing public money, told a judge he is working out the details of a plea deal in a recent case in which his client is accused of stealing from guests at a downtown timeshare.

“We have an agreement in principle. We have to work out a few minor details,” attorney Peter Valencia, a former assistant district attorney who represents Block Jr., told District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer at a Thursday pretrial conference in Block Jr.’s burglary case.

Block Jr., who has a well-known drug problem, is accused of stealing a $6,700 watch, a wallet and an iPad from an Oklahoma couple who were staying at the Otra Vez en Santa Fe condominiums, which are managed by his mother, Patsy Block.

According to affidavit for an arrest warrant in the case, Block Jr. occasionally worked at the property and was able to obtain a key to the couple’s room in November. He was caught on camera entering the room while they were sleeping and leaving with their property in his arms.

He is charged with two third-degree felonies — burglary and receiving stolen property — and faces a maximum of six years in prison if convicted.

Block Jr. — whose father, Jerome Block, also served on the Public Regulation Commission — was elected to a $90,000-per-year post on the PRC in 2008 and resigned nearly three years later, after pleading guilty to six felony counts for fraudulent use of a credit card, as well as violating campaign finance laws and embezzling public funds during his campaign. He told the judge he was struggling with drug addiction.

He also pleaded no contest to a charge of embezzlement for taking a car from a Santa Fe auto dealer for a test drive and not returning it. Police later found the vehicle parked near the Otra Vez building.

In that case, Block Jr. faced more than four years in prison but instead was sentenced in 2012 to probation and drug treatment.

He was later kicked out of the Drug Court program after telling a teenager via text message he could get her Oxycontin.

Two years later, he violated his probation by testing positive for cocaine and opiates.

The state Attorney General’s Office, which prosecuted the case, argued that Block Jr. should spend time behind bars for probation violations. Instead, a judge again ordered Block Jr. to undergo rehabilitation. His probation ended in 2016.

Block Jr. attempted to evade arrest in the 2017 burglary case by telling police he’d checked into a drug treatment center. He declined to name the facility but eventually was arrested at the Life Healing Center after the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip saying he could be found there.

Block Jr. was released on a GPS ankle monitor pending his trial in the case, and he appeared for court Thursday dressed in a blue button-up shirt, jeans and sneakers.

He declined to comment for this story.

Daniel Selchow, one of the victims in the burglary case, told The New Mexican in December that Block Jr. had paid back the value of the stolen items and the couple not longer wanted to pursue charges. He called the scenario a “mess.”

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