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Charges filed against second former Rock Nobles corrections agent

WORTHINGTON -- Charges were filed Tuesday against the second former Rock Nobles Community Corrections agent arrested in mid-March as part of a Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force investigation.

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Banegas

WORTHINGTON - Charges were filed Tuesday against the second former Rock Nobles Community Corrections agent arrested in mid-March as part of a Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force investigation.

Cynthia Banegas, 37, of Bigelow is facing felony aiding an offender to avoid arrest-harbor/conceal, as well as gross misdemeanor misconduct of public employee, after she allegedly failed to report an individual she knew to be wanted on a warrant to law enforcement after interacting with him at Walmart. The more serious, felony-level offense is punishable up to three years imprisonment, a $5,000 fine or both.

According to the criminal complaint, Banegas told law enforcement that on March 13 she encountered Brandon Thavixay at Walmart and did not report his whereabouts to law enforcement despite having personally entered the warrant into the correction agency’s system for a probation violation.

Upon further investigation, Walmart surveillance footage shows Banegas and Thavixay, 22, of Worthington hugging twice and engaging in what appeared to be extended conversation, the complaint details.

Banegas willingly came to law enforcement after the discovery, identified herself and Thavixay in the surveillance footage and was arrested.  

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Thavixay was arrested on a warrant and charged with additional drug charges March 18. At the time of his arrest, he was a passenger of Rebecca Barraza. Barraza - also a former Rock Nobles Community Corrections agent - was arrested the same night, and initial charges were filed March 30.

Banegas was interviewed as part of the greater investigation, and she told law enforcement she and Barraza developed a personal relationship that included parties with illegal controlled substances.

According to the criminal complaint, Banegas said she had stopped attending routine parties with Barraza and a group of other individuals currently on probation in December 2017. She and Barraza had used an illegal substance together on at least one occasion.

Additionally, the duo would discuss warrants issued within their office - including a warrant for Thavixay, as he and Barraza were dating.

They didn’t discuss the warrant that led to the March 18 arrest, the complaint states, as Banegas was under the impression Barraza and Thavixay were no longer together. She later learned that to be false.   

Her first appearance has been scheduled for April 18 in Nobles County District Court.

The case has been assigned to Fifth Judicial District Judge Michael D. Trushenski after judges Gordon Moore, Terry Vajgrt and Christina Wietzema had all recused themselves from the case.

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