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Top Vegas official charged

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By David Giuliani

Ken Garcia, the city’s utilities director, has been charged in connection with a fight at a local bar.

Garcia, 44, who has an Albuquerque address,  faces a felony charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Garcia has been placed on paid administrative leave, while the city looks into the matter, City Attorney Dave Romero said.

“A primary question for us is whether the incident was related to city activity or not,” Romero said.

Shortly after 11 p.m., Garcia got into an altercation inside Legers bar, 2404 Seventh St., according to a city police report. The victim in the fight went to Alta Vista Regional Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

The victim was reportedly harassing a woman leaving the bar, prompting Garcia to get into a fight with that man, according to reports.

Witnesses said that Garcia struck the victim with a beer bottle, and the two men fell into a booth, where Garcia continued to hit the other man, the report states.

The city police initially asked the state police, a neutral third party, to investigate, but the state agency declined, City Manager Timothy Dodge said. As a result, the city police went ahead and handled it, he said.

“It’s hard when you have a city employee involved,” Dodge said.

Dodge said he was notified immediately about Garcia’s alleged involvement in the fight, and he said Garcia himself quickly called to give a report. The manager said he called the mayor and City Council members first thing Wednesday morning.

Dodge said Garcia decided to take off the day Wednesday after the incident happened.

Garcia couldn’t be reached for comment.

With then-Mayor Tony Marquez’s backing, Garcia started with the city as the interim city manager for a brief time in February 2009, then he took command of the utilities department, which includes water, wastewater and natural gas.

Garcia replaced George DuFour, whom a City Council majority voted to fire. DuFour has since sued the city, alleging civil rights violations.