Deming Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Conspiracy, Kidnapping, and Firearms Charges
ALBUQUERQUE—Jessie A. Hopper, Jr., 30, of Deming, N.M., pled guilty this morning in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to conspiracy, kidnapping and firearms charges. The guilty plea was entered without the benefit of a plea agreement.
Hopper, Jr., and his codefendants, Jessie Hopper, Sr., 54, and Polly Hopper, 60, also of Deming, N.M., were arrested in May 2014, on a criminal complaint charging them with kidnapping and firearms charges. The three defendants have been in federal custody since that time.
In June 2014, the three defendants were charged in a six-count indictment. Counts 1 and 2 of the indictment charged the three with conspiracy and kidnapping. Count 3 charged the two men with brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Counts 4 and 5 charged Hopper, Sr., and Hopper, Jr., with being felons in possession of firearms, and Count 6 charged the men with unlawfully possessing a sawed-off shotgun with an obliterated serial number.
According to court filings, the three defendants kidnapped a woman and her two young children and transported them in interstate commerce. Hopper, Jr., and Hopper, Sr., allegedly kidnapped the victims in Hot Springs, Ark., on May 8, 2014, with the assistance of Polly Hopper. Hopper, Jr., allegedly handcuffed the adult victim and brandished a firearm at her to force her to comply with his demands, including a demand that she telephone family members to assure them that she was voluntarily leaving Arkansas with Hopper, Jr. On May 8 and 9, 2014, the three defendants allegedly drove the victims from Arkansas to the defendants’ residence in Deming, where Hopper, Jr., and Hopper Sr., sexually assaulted the adult victim several times.
The three defendants were arrested by the New Mexico State Police on state charges on May 10, 2014. They remained in state custody until they were transferred to federal custody on May 16, 2014, to face the charges in this case. The state charges, which are being pursued by the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for the State of New Mexico, are still pending.
Today Hopper, Jr., pled guilty to Counts 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the indictment. He remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Hopper, Jr., faces a statutory maximum penalty of any term of years to life imprisonment, and a seven-year prison sentence for brandishing a firearm that must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed for the other offenses.
Hopper, Sr., and Polly Hopper have entered not guilty pleas and are scheduled for trial on Feb. 23, 2015. If convicted, each faces a statutory maximum penalty of any term of years to life imprisonment. If convicted on the firearms brandishing charge, Hopper, Sr., face seven years in prison that must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the other charges against him. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and a criminal defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces offices of the FBI and ATF, the New Mexico State Police, and the Luna County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for the State of New Mexico. The FBI in Little Rock, Ark., the Garland County (Arkansas) Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas also assisted in the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randy M. Castellano and Maria Y. Armijo of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.