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TMCNet:  Charge cut against El Paso County commissioner aide Jaime Abeytia

[June 07, 2013]

Charge cut against El Paso County commissioner aide Jaime Abeytia

Jun 07, 2013 (El Paso Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- An El Paso County commissioner's senior administrative assistant had a criminal charge reduced Thursday in a case in which he is accused of hacking into his common-law wife's email to access topless photos of her.

Jaime Abeytia, a former political blogger and assistant to Commissioner Vince Perez, faces a refiled charge of breach of computer security, a Class B misdemeanor. The case was initially a state jail felony.

"Prosecutors believe that the elements of the crime are better reflected in the misdemeanor charge," said Renee Railey, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office.

Abeytia also faces a Class A misdemeanor charge of display of harmful material to a minor. Both charges are pending trial.

Abeytia, 37, was arrested in February and has said that the allegations stem from a divorce and child-custody battle with his former wife.

According to criminal complaint affidavits filed by El Paso police investigators, Abeytia allegedly hacked into the personal email account of his spouse, Martha Franco, while they were living together in May 2012.

Abeytia allegedly found explicit photos and videos that Franco had taken of herself and emailed to other men, the affidavits stated. Abeytia then allegedly forwarded those emails to his own email account.

Documents alleged that Abeytia later showed some of the photos to two of the couple's children, who were 17 at the time.

Documents stated that investigators got a search warrant for Abeytia's email. The search, according to the affidavit, found emails in which Abeytia mentioned finding the photos and showing them to the children.

A state jail felony is punishable by up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Daniel Borunda may be reached at dborunda@elpasotimes.com; 546-6102. Follow him on Twitter @BorundaDaniel ___ (c)2013 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Visit the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) at www.elpasotimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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