A nonprofit headed by Taos County Commissioner Nicklos Jaramillo has sold thousands of dollars in equipment and services to the taxpayer-funded fire department run by Jaramillo and his brother.
County documents obtained by The Taos News through a public records request show that Siete Valles Firemen’s Association has been paid at least $4,015 for materials and services ordered by the Hondo-Seco fire department.
State records show that Nicklos Jaramillo is treasurer of Siete Valles Firemen’s Association — a nonprofit organization that registered as a corporation in 2005. His brother, Edmundo Jaramillo, is listed as the president of Siete Valles.
Edmundo Jaramillo is also chief of the Hondo-Seco Volunteer Fire Department. In documents, Nicklos Jaramillo has identified himself as treasurer of the department.
The Hondo-Seco department is funded through tax allocations from the New Mexico State Fire Marshall’s Office, but the money is administered by Taos County.
Nicklos Jaramillo has been a county commissioner since 2003.
Records show that the county has paid several invoices submitted by Siete Valles starting in 2008. To view copies of these documents, click on the PDF link at the left of this page.
- In 2011, the county paid Siete Valles $664 for equipment, including radios, antennas and wiring. A $45 “programming” charge was included in the price. An invoice and purchase order show the Hondo-Seco fire department as the buyer and Siete Valles as the vendor.
Nicklos Jaramillo’s signature appears on two invoices related to the purchase. It’s unclear on both documents if he’s acting as an agent for Siete Valles or as a representative of Hondo-Seco.
- In an invoice dated April 22, 2008, Siete Valles billed the county for $2,800 to cover “air fare, travel and lodging, and transport cost” of a fire truck from Marietta, Ga., back to Taos. The county cut a check for that amount three days later.
Included with the invoice was a copy of the exceptions in the state’s procurement code, one of which says that public bodies do not have to seek bids for travel or shipping costs, including meals and lodging.
Payment information provided by the county did not show any itemized receipts for travel costs mentioned in this letter. The Taos News has requested copies of any such documents.
Minutes from a county commission meeting in 2008 show that the county approved the purchase of the fire truck for $74,900. Then-county manager Sammy Pacheco said at the meeting that the supplier would charge $3,200 more for the truck if it was delivered.
- In March 2008, the county paid Siete Valles $815 for CPR/first aid training materials. Again, the purchase order listed the buyer as the Hondo-Seco fire department and Siete Valles as the vendor.
A letter from the American Red Cross office in Santa Fe was addressed to the Hondo-Seco Volunteer Fire Department and provided pricing for $730 worth of materials. “AKA Siete Valles” was written in pen beside the department’s name. Also written in pen was an additional $85 for 17 first aid/CPR cards. The letter was stamped and signed March 10, 2008 by Edmundo Jaramillo.
- In a letter dated Aug. 24, 2009, Nicklos Jaramillo wrote the county’s finance director regarding reimbursement for air travel expenses paid by Freedom Fire Equipment based in Georgia. Nicklos Jaramillo identified himself as treasurer of the Hondo-Seco department in the letter.
“The Siete Valles Fireman’s [sic] Association was to be reimbursed by Freedom Fire for air travel associated with the inspection and delivery of their fire apparatus,” Jaramillo wrote. “The reimbursement was erroneously made directly to Taos County. We are requesting that the amount paid by Freedom Fire for such travel expenses be paid back to the [Siete Valles] association.”
The letter did not specify when and where association members traveled. Documents provided by the county did not show any receipts for travel costs mentioned in this letter. The Taos News has requested copies of any such documents.
On Aug. 28, 2009, the county wrote a check to Siete Valles Firemen’s Association for $400. Approval for the check was made by then-county manager Pacheco.
- In August 2012, Nicklos Jaramillo asked for reimbursement for $312 to pay for fire truck parts. Included with the request was an invoice from Freedom Fire and a tracking slip showing a package had been mailed from Georgia to Arroyo Hondo.
Records show the payment came from the budget for the Hondo-Seco Fire Department. The payment was authorized by then-interim county manager and current county attorney Barbara Martínez. The check was made out in the name of Nicklos E. Jaramillo.
Nicklos Jaramillo and Edmundo Jaramillo did not return messages seeking comment.
Among the duties of the New Mexico Office of the State Auditor is reviewing potential conflicts of interest for agencies receiving state funds.
“We are concerned by related-party transactions, and we expect the county’s independent auditor to review those types of transactions during the audit process,” said Evan Blackstone, chief of staff for the Office of the State Auditor, when asked about the transactions between Siete Valles and the Hondo-Seco fire department.
The Taos News has sent a formal request to Siete Valles asking for copies of its financial records going back to 2005. The Taos News has also asked Taos County for copies of any audits of the Hondo-Seco Volunteer Fire Department done over the same period.
The state’s corporations division has canceled the corporation status of Siete Valles because the organization has failed to update its information since 2008.