CAROL A. CLARK Monitor County Editor
Los Alamos police detectives Monday submitted results to the District Attorney's office for review and possible prosecution regarding their investigation into possible criminal actions by a Los Alamos National Laboratory contract employee.
"We are recommending that charges of embezzlement and tampering with evidence be filed against Stephanie Maestas-Romero," Det. Cpl. Doug Johnson said on Monday.
Maestas-Romero, 32, of Alcalde, worked in an administrative capacity at the plutonium facility (TA-55), according to police.
LANL public affairs spokesman Kevin Roark confirmed the situation during an interview on Monday.
"At the beginning of July, laboratory managers and security officials contacted Los Alamos police with concerns about the unauthorized or inappropriate use of laboratory property," Roark said. "The equipment has been recovered and the laboratory has determined that at no time was classified information involved."
Maestas-Romero has not been arrested, according to police.
An itemized list of the missing equipment identified in police documents includes a laptop computer, a desktop computer and a 37-inch computer monitor.
"We believe she took electronic equipment belonging to the laboratory to her home and let other family members use at least one of the computers," Johnson said.
During questioning, Maestas-Romero allegedly told police that she had a property pass allowing her to take equipment home from the lab.
"She could not immediately produce the pass," Johnson said. "It turns out that she appears to have had permission for the laptop. We have added the charge of tampering with evidence because we have reason to believe she attempted to take one of the computers to the salvage yard to have the hard drive smashed."
Prior to being a contract employee, Maestas-Romero was employed by LANL, but, according to the police report, was "apparently terminated after being suspected of taking items from work."
Roark said he couldn't comment on the investigation being conducted by police.
"The contract employee was terminated last week," Roark said. "It would be inappropriate to go into details because of personnel privacy issues."
Johnson praised LANL security and specifically the division that worked with LAPD on this case.
"We have worked with S-12 on a number of investigations and they do an outstanding job," he said. "The successful collaboration between our organizations is insuring the swift and thorough removal of individuals from the workplace who choose to break the law."
Chatter about the case first surfaced anonymously on July 8 on "LANL The Rest of the Story," a local blog about daily life at the laboratory.