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In Farmington, New Mexico, the job description for a Court Services Coordinator (similar to a probation officer) lists the following. “Certified substance abuse counselor or five (5) years experience in the criminal justice system required.” That usually means “working for a criminal justice agency” not “as a criminal being processed by the system.”
But, it turned out that Court Services Coordinator Christos Derizotis had lots of experience in the criminal justice system that the city didn’t know about. According to an article in DUI Attorney headlined “City official fired over New Mexico DWI arrest,” it was only after Derizotis had been arrested for DUI that they discovered that had six prior DUI charges and:
“officials learned Derizotis had been convicted of battery, false imprisonment, criminal damage and impersonating a police officer in the past.”
But wait, as the late-night pitchmen say, there’s more. According to the Farmington Daily Times, Derizotis was also “sentenced to six years in the Federal correctional Institution La Tuna in Anthony, Texas, in 1985 for bank larceny.” He was paroled in 1989, but nine months later he was arrested again for violating the terms of his parole.
How did this happen? The Farmington paper suggests that it might have been a bit of favoritism. Derizotis is the son of a former Magistrate Judge.
They may be right, but I think the real explanation is much simpler. The city never ran a criminal background check on him. They only ran those on people applying for positions that handled money and information technology jobs.
According to the Farmington Daily Times, city human resources director, Donna Brooks said, “This will prompt us to do (criminal background checks) on probation type of people.” It should.
Doing regular criminal background checks on people who will occupy positions of trust is a way to head off embarrassment and make an informed decision about the candidate. If I were Ms. Brooks, I’d be thinking about where else the city ought to be conducting background checks.