Opinion: False accusation of water stealing

A fellow, nearly as old as I, named himself as "Joseph Leon" when he stopped to chat as I hauled water for my garden. He wore a U.S. Forest Service cap and a BLM shirt (but no gun in sight) as he stepped to my truck. I had pulled to the side to allow him to pass; I slowly drive on unpaved roadways with weight in my tanks. He parked in the middle of the road alongside me. Other cars, unable to move around his truck, gathered as we talked.

He accused me of stealing water from the El Rito acequia. I told him I had not. He wanted to know where I got this water, as he has seen me drive by (on State Road 522) twice this week with my water-hauling setup. I doubt that I am required to tell you that, I said. He informed me - Well then, you will have to show up in court and explain where you got the water. I quit listening.

He yammered at me more. I thought of the time and trouble everyone would invest to address his unfounded accusation. (Joe had not seen me take water from any acequia. He had seen my truck, my trailer and my full tanks, twice this week moving down the highway, away from El Rito.) I proposed a countersuit for wrongful prosecution (if there is such a thing in New Mexico). Or slander.

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