New Mexico mayor enters guilty plea in case stemming from fistfight with newspaper publisher

By Susan Montoya Bryan, AP
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

NM mayor enters guilty plea in fistfight case

GALLUP, N.M. — The mayor of Gallup, N.M., has pleaded no contest to public affray for his role in a fistfight with the publisher of the city’s newspaper.

Mayor Harry Mendoza had faced misdemeanor assault and battery charges for the scuffle with Gallup Independent publisher Bob Zollinger. But he agreed to enter the plea to the fighting charge before his jury trial started Tuesday.

A magistrate sentenced the mayor to 180 days of conditional discharge, and ordered him to make a $100 donation to Gallup’s crime stoppers program and write a letter of apology to the community.

Mendoza and Zollinger each claimed the other started the Jan. 6 fight outside a bank.

The dispute centered on articles linking Mendoza to the gang rape of a teenage girl in 1948 when Mendoza was 16. The mayor denies the allegations and has filed a defamation lawsuit against Zollinger.

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