N.M. firefighters fired after rape charge
A third Albuquerque firefighter, also accused of rape, retired after allegations surfaced and all three were placed on administrative leave
By Matthew Reisen
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Fire Rescue has fired two firefighters who are accused of raping a woman in July.
Officials say a third AFR firefighter charged in the case retired after the allegations surfaced.
AFR spokesman Lt. Jason Fejer said firefighter Angel Portillo, 32, and Lt. Aden Heyman, 46, were both terminated following an internal investigation that found they violated the agency’s policies.
He said firefighter Anthony Martin, 44, chose to retire — with full benefits — after all three were placed on administrative leave prior to the internal investigation.
AFR Chief Emily Jaramillo said in a statement that AFR holds its firefighters “to the highest standards of conduct both on and off duty.”
“We have a zero tolerance for unethical behavior. Our handling of this matter was transparent, unbiased, and timely, resulting in terminations after a thorough internal investigation,” Jaramillo said. “Our thoughts are with those who were affected by the actions of these former employees. AFR will continue to earn the trust of the community we serve and want to emphasize that the actions of a few are not reflective of the exemplary work our firefighters perform each day.”
The announcement comes weeks after Heyman, Portillo and Martin were charged with criminal sexual penetration in the July 15 incident. All three were booked into jail in early September but have since been released and are awaiting trial.
“We are deeply disappointed by the Fire Department’s decision to terminate solely on the basis of these false allegations and that Mr. Portilllo was not first afforded the opportunity to defend himself in a court of law before a career marked by dedication, service, and integrity was discarded,” Heather LeBlanc, Portillo’s attorney, said in a statement.
“It is disheartening to see that AFR’s decision seems to have been influenced more by external pressures, including media scrutiny and public opinion, rather than careful consideration of the facts,” LeBlanc added. “Mr. Portillo maintains his innocence with unwavering confidence and we look forward to bringing the truth to light as the case progresses.”
Police responded about 11 p.m. to The Villas apartment complex on Menaul NE, near Broadway, after a woman reported being gang raped by the trio.
The woman, whose sister is a lieutenant at AFR, told police she had played in a golf tournament with Portillo and Martin earlier in the day.
Police said the woman told them that afterward, they all drank until she blacked out and came to being raped by Portillo, Martin and Heyman, who was “instructing the other two.”