UNITED STATES NEWS

Ex-New Mexico police informant headed to prison after admitting 5 bank robberies to feed addiction

Jul 28, 2023, 10:01 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man who confessed to five bank robberies in Albuquerque last year — including one bank he robbed twice as part of what he said were desperate attempts to feed his fentanyl addiction — has been sentenced to more than two years in prison.

Jason Smeltzer, 41, made off with less than $4,000 total from the the five robberies, which took place within 6 miles (10 kilometers) of each other over five weeks in early 2022, court records show.

Each time, the unarmed Albuquerque man who once served as a confidential informant for the city’s police handed notes to tellers claiming he was a vigilante helping law enforcement and asking that they “please” place bills in an envelope, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

Assistant federal public defender Dennis Candelaria had argued Smeltzer be sentenced to only 18 months in prison partly because he had no adult criminal record, a lengthy work history and was actively involved in many community activities. He said Smeltzer had been suffering from a drug addiction for years trying to ease pain from an injured knee and that he was committed to rehabilitation.

In addition to being a confidential police informant, Candelaria said Smeltzer had participated in the FBI program for cyber security. He didn’t provide any additional details.

“Fentanyl took total control of his life,” Candelaria wrote in a pre-sentencing document.

“In many ways, Mr. Smeltzer is the typical bank robber. He is robbing a bank to buy drugs for his addiction. However, unlike the typical bank robber, we can look past his actions and see an individual that never intended to harm anyone,” Candelaria said.

Smeltzer “committed each of these bank robberies by passing a note and requesting the teller to ‘please’ place money in an envelope,” he said.

From Jan. 20-Feb. 23, 2022, Smeltzer stole a total of $3,856 from the four banks on the city’s northeast side, including just $136 from one. The most was $1,180 the second time he robbed the same credit union on San Mateo Boulevard in mid-February.

Acting on a call to a national tip line, FBI agents and police arrested him leaving his Albuquerque home in a car with his mother hours after the final robbery on Feb. 23.

An FBI agent said in an affidavit that Smeltzer confessed to all of the crimes and told authorities he was using the money to buy drugs for his fentanyl addiction.

“He also advised Agents he wrote the demands notes and he always asked for money politely,” the agent wrote in the affidavit last year.

In one case, the note he handed a teller claimed “I am that vigilante that helps law enforcement take down drug dealers.” Another said he was a vigilante “helping the police catch drug dealers and stop overdoses,” according to court documents.

The latter also said, “Thank you, truly I am grateful. I will repay.”

Smeltzer pleaded guilty to five counts of bank robbery on March 22. On July 18, U.S District Judge Judith C. Herrera sentenced him to 27 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

United States News

FILE - A pedestrian traverses the rotunda inside the New Mexico Capitol, March 16, 2023, in Santa F...

Associated Press

New Mexico governor cites ‘dangerous intersection’ of crime and homelessness, wants lawmakers to act

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Citing what she calls the “dangerous intersection” of crime and homelessness, New Mexico’s governor is calling on lawmakers to address stubbornly high crime rates as they convene Thursday for a special legislative session. In issuing her proclamation, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham talked about a vulnerable segment of society that falls […]

55 minutes ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives on third day of the Republi...

Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: Trump, in Republican convention video, alludes to false claim 2020 election was stolen

DONALD TRUMP, alluding that the 2020 vote was stolen: “Whether you vote early, absentee, by mail or in person, we are going to protect the vote. That’s the most important thing we have to do is protect the vote. Keep your eyes open because these people want to cheat and they do cheat. And frankly, […]

2 hours ago

Supporters cheer as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives for a c...

Associated Press

‘One screen, two movies’: Conflicting conspiracy theories emerge from Trump shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former president is shot, the gunman quickly neutralized, and all of it is caught on camera. But for those who don’t believe their eyes, that’s just the start of the story. For some supporters of former President Donald Trump, the failure of the Secret Service to prevent the attempted assassination point […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Hundreds attend vigil for man killed at Trump rally in Pennsylvania before visitation Thursday

SARVER, Pa. (AP) — Hundreds of people who gathered to remember the former fire chief fatally shot at a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump were urged to find “unity” as the area in rural Pennsylvania sought to recover from the assassination attempt. Wednesday’s public event was the first of two organized to memorialize […]

2 hours ago

California delegate T. Tran holds his phone with an image of Republican presidential candidate form...

Associated Press

What to watch as the Republican National Convention enters its fourth day in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Republican National Convention culminates Thursday with former President Donald Trump expected to accept the party’s presidential nomination, achieving a comeback four years in the making and anticipated even more in the past week in light of Saturday’s assassination attempt. Trump is expected to accept his third consecutive party nod in prime […]

2 hours ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

Ex-New Mexico police informant headed to prison after admitting 5 bank robberies to feed addiction