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Ex-GOP candidate to remain jailed in connection with drive-bys at lawmakers’ homes

- Solomon Peña, center, a Republican candidate for New Mexico House District 14, is taken into custody by Albuquerque, New Mexico, Police officers, Jan. 16, 2023, in southwest Albuquerque. (Roberto E. Rosales/The Albuquerque Journal via AP, File)

ALBUQUERQUE – A judge ruled that a failed political candidate will remain jailed on federal charges that include election interference related to a series of drive-by shootings at the homes of state and local lawmakers in Albuquerque.

In a ruling Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Paul Briones said he could find no conditions of release for Solomon Peña that would reasonably ensure the safety of the community. The judge also found that Peña is at risk of fleeing from authorities.

Solomon Peña (Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

The Albuquerque Journal reported that Peña’s lawyer, Elizabeth Honce, argued for her client to be released, saying he had no intention of harming the community.

Peña lost a 2022 state House race by nearly 50 percentage points but never conceded the race.

“He was frustrated by his election loss, and there’s no indication that this motivation has subsided or will subside,” prosecutor Patrick Cordova told the judge.

Peña had been held in jail on state charges after his arrest in January. He allegedly orchestrated the shootings at the homes of four Democrats, police said, including two who had certified the November election results.

No injuries were reported, though in one case bullets passed through the bedroom of a state senator’s 10-year-old daughter.

The state charges, which included shooting at a dwelling and conspiracy, were dropped June 1 so the federal case against the three defendants could proceed.

Peña has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of interference with federally protected activities and two firearms offenses.