Pagosan pleads guilty in auto theft case

During court proceedings Tuesday, Travis Farmer, 20, of Pagosa Springs, tendered a plea agreement, trading seven counts of motor vehicle theft, a charge of second-degree kidnapping and of weapon possession — among other charges — for two charges of first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft and a probation violation. The plea, if accepted, could land Farmer in prison for up to 12 years — sentencing is scheduled for June 16.

Farmer’s plea stems from his role in a series of incidents dating back to Nov. 18, 2008, when Farmer and a 15-year-old female went missing from Pagosa Springs in a Dodge Ram 2500 pickup stolen from Farmer’s employer, Precision Asphalt Paving. The vehicle was marked with the company’s logo on the driver’s and passenger-side doors.

According to local law enforcement authorities, the duo left the Pagosa Springs area in the truck some time in the early hours of Nov. 18.

By Nov. 20, the truck was discovered at a helipad at Diamond Bar, Ariz., near Hoover Dam. Another vehicle was discovered missing from the site. Information on that vehicle was dispersed to law enforcement agencies and a witness was interviewed who saw the fugitives leaving the site in the second vehicle.

At the same time, the FBI was preparing a federal warrant for Farmer on charges of Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution.

According to law enforcement reports, the second vehicle ran out of fuel at Hoover Dam and was left in a maintenance yard, the fugitives leaving the scene on foot.

A short time later, the two Pagosans were contacted by Hoover Dam Federal Police on a welfare check. The two reportedly gave the authorities false names and information, but the authorities eventually obtained the female’s name, tracked the name to a Pagosa warrant, then made the connection with an arrest warrant for Farmer — a warrant issued by Archuleta County Court Judge Jim Denvir Nov. 18, with a charge of second-degree kidnapping.

The suspects were arrested by the federal police.

Farmer was transported to a Las Vegas jail. His female companion was held until her parents made transportation arrangements.

According to local authorities, Farmer was brought before a magistrate in Las Vegas for an extradition hearing. During the hearing, Farmer signed a waiver of extradition, and arrangements were made for his return to Archuleta County.

According to Pagosa Springs Police Det. Scott Maxwell, interviews with a relative of Farmer revealed that the suspect indicated he feared failing a urine test (a requirement of probation) and worried he would be sent to prison. Maxwell said Farmer left a note stating he was fleeing to Mexico and the note included the young female’s name.

According to Pagosa Springs Police Det. Scott Maxwell, the situation first came to light when the truck was reported stolen. Suspicion then fell on Farmer, an employee who failed to show up for work Tuesday morning and who was well acquainted with motor vehicle theft.

Farmer has auto theft convictions on his record, was on probation for motor vehicle theft, and was awaiting a court date on five charges of motor vehicle theft stemming from incidents last spring.

james@pagosasun.com