In Brief - New Mexico - Jan. 17, 2014

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The Associated Press

Prescribed burn under way  
SANTA FE — Federal officials are using a prescribed burn in the Santa Fe National Forest in northern New Mexico to reduce the risk of wildfires and protect a water source for the community of Las Vegas.
The Forest Service started burning Tuesday in the Gallinas River watershed about 20 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
The goal is to burn about 200 acres to remove dead timber and undergrowth that could fuel large, damaging wildfires.
Officials said smoke from the prescribed burn may be seen in area communities, such as Gallinas and San Geronimo, and potentially from Interstate 25 near Las Vegas.
Two prescribed burns are planned next week — about 55 acres near Truchas and about 400 acres northeast of Jemez Springs.

Third season for ‘Longmire’
SANTA FE — The television series Longmire is returning to New Mexico.
The New Mexico Film Office says the A&E Network drama is scheduled to begin production on its third season this spring
Officials say the series will be filmed in and around Santa Fe and at Garson Studios at Santa Fe University of Art and Design.
Longmire is a crime drama based on the “Walt Longmire” mystery novels series written by Craig Johnson. The series, produced by Warner Horizon Television, stars Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips and Katee Sackhoff.
The series is set in Wyoming.

Online voter signup begins
SANTA FE — The state’s top elections official says New Mexicans can register to vote online when doing business at a Motor Vehicle Division office.
Secretary of State Dianna Duran said the electronic voter registration started this week for people who are renewing a driver’s license, registering a vehicle or conducting other transactions at MVD offices across New Mexico.
By mid-2015, voters will be able to go online from a personal computer to update their registration information, such as making a change of address or party affiliation.
No fraud by health provider
SANTA FE — Attorney General Gary King says investigators found no fraud by a behavioral health provider in Alamogordo although Medicaid was improperly billed for $19,000 in services.
King’s office announced Thursday it had finished an investigation of the first of more than a dozen nonprofit mental health providers that had their Medicaid payments suspended last year by the Human Services Department because of allegations of fraud, mismanagement and billing problems.
A department spokesman says the agency will investigate the overbillings by The Counseling Center in Alamogordo and suspects the amount is much higher.
The state contracted with an Arizona company to take over providing services that had been handled by the nonprofit group.

Couple sent to federal prison
ALBUQUERQUE — A former Taos County Housing Authority executive and her husband have been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay more than $786,000 restitution for conspiring to steal federal funds.
Prosecutors say 42-year-old Carmella Martinez was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in federal prison while 44-year-old Paul Martinez got a two-year term.
The Arroyo Seco residents pleaded guilty in the case last August.
A 49-count indictment in December 2012 charged the couple with conspiracy, theft from programs receiving federal funds and theft of government property.
Carmella Martinez admitted stealing the federal funds between November 2003 and December 2011 when she was TCHA’s financial specialist and later its executive director.

Family files suit against state
ALBUQUERQUE — Family members and legal guardians of developmentally disabled New Mexicans sued Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration Wednesday over cuts in services.
The lawsuit filed in federal district court seeks to restore the services lost by individuals and stop the administration from continuing with changes implemented to control costs in a Medicaid-funded program serving about 4,000 people.
One of the main disputes is over a new method for evaluating recipients to determine their level of services, which can include 24-hour residential care as well as occupational and speech therapy.