ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Former Albuquerque police union president Joey Sigala was fired Thursday following a few turbulent months in which he stepped down from the union amid embezzlement allegations and was arrested on charges he beat his wife, officials said.
Police Chief Ray Schultz said Sigala received his termination notice around 10 a.m. He had been on paid leave since his arrest May 9. He had been with the Albuquerque Police Department about eight years.
Calls to Sigala and his attorney were not returned Thursday.
Sigala faces charges of false imprisonment and aggravated burglary. The latter charge stems from an allegation that he stole cash and a financial assistance card from his wife.
APD reports show officers had been called to deal with the couple at least four times before last week’s incident. Two of those calls were dispatched as domestic disputes. Another was a report that Ashley Sigala was missing, and the fourth was that she was threatening herself with a knife.
Three Rio Rancho police reports also show officers responded to domestic disputes involving the Sigalas – two in 2009 and one in March of this year.
Sigala and then-Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association vice president Felipe Garcia resigned from their union posts in late March under pressure from members who were concerned that as much as $250,000 in dues may have been misspent.
Members also were displeased with the way Sigala and Garcia handled revelations in Journal stories that the two had paid up to $500 apiece to 20 officers involved in shootings since 2010.
The financial questions first arose in a February email from the APOA’s attorney, Fred Mowrer. It raised concerns about whether the union would have sufficient funds to pay for ongoing legal disputes with the city and stated that $259,000 in dues had been spent during the past two years, much of it on unspecified “union work” and salaries for Sigala, Garcia and others.
Revelations during union meetings after Mowrer’s email – that Garcia and Sigala paid themselves more in dues-funded salaries than they had previously acknowledged and that Sigala’s wife had been paid about $6,000 for work on “special projects” – prompted members to seek an outside audit.
The audit is under way, and State Police are conducting a separate criminal investigation into the allegations.
The State Police probe also is focused on whether former union officials criminally misused city time.