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Former Rock Nobles agent Barraza facing additional charges

Barraza

WORTHINGTON — The complexity of alleged misconduct by former Rock Nobles Community Corrections agents grew this week with the filing of additional charges.

Charges were filed Tuesday against both Cynthia Banegas and Rebecca Barraza. The charges against Banegas, 37, of Bigelow are the first since her arrest approximately three weeks ago.

However, the four charges against Barraza, 25, of Worthington are additional to the alleged offenses filed March 30.

According to Tuesday’s criminal complaint, Barraza and Banegas allegedly requested that law enforcement arrest an individual on probation on an apprehension and detention order and random urinalysis test they had administered on March 15. The duo allegedly told law enforcement the probationer had tested positive for methamphetamine, and they also requested a search warrant to be executed by the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force.

Without proper documentation that the residence was where the probationer lived — and her pleas of being just a visitor — the BRDTF denied the request, and a search warrant was not executed.  

During the jail booking process, the probationer provided another urine sample. The sample allegedly tested negative for all controlled substances, and the preliminary breath test she provided resulted in a .000.

As a follow-up to the March 15 incident, a BRDTF agent reviewed the probationer’s file and did not believe there was a valid reason for the apprehension and detention order to have been issued. Rock Nobles Community Corrections Director Jon Ramlo confirmed this, the complaint details.

He further claimed he was not aware — nor had he been contacted — about the A&D order. However, he had supposedly co-signed the order with Barraza, documents indicated. He said it was possible he’d been approached about the A&D request, but that he couldn’t recall it.

Other supposed inconsistencies regarding the probationer and documents related to the March 15 action were also detailed in the criminal complaint.  

At the conclusion of Ramlo’s interview, he reiterated that there should have been a consent to sample form, which there was not. He further indicated that if the probationer had tested positive for a controlled substance, the sample should have been saved and sent to the lab, which did not occur.

As a result of the investigation, Barraza is now facing felony false imprisonment — intentional restraint; gross misdemeanor misconduct of public employee — injure persons/property/rights; gross misdemeanor misconduct of public employee — exceed authority; and misdemeanor falsely reporting crime charges. The most serious, felony-level offense is punishable up to three years imprisonment, a $5,000 fine or both.

The charges are in addition to aiding an offender to avoid arrest, misconduct of public employee, obstruction of legal process and driving under the influence charges filed after she was arrested March 18 for allegedly driving under the influence and attempting to conceal an individual who had a warrant out for his arrest.

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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