Rancher from Taos County Sentenced to Prison for Carjacking Utility Workers on His Ranch
ALBUQUERQUE – Richard Howieson, 56, of Costilla, N.M., was sentenced yesterday in Albuquerque, N.M., to a year and a day in prison for his conviction on a federal carjacking charge. Howieson will be on supervised release for two years after completing his prison sentence.
The FBI arrested Howieson on Oct. 11, 2016, on a three-count indictment charging him with carjacking, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The indictment was superseded on Feb. 7, 2017, to charge Howieson with carjacking and with using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. According to the indictment, Howieson committed these crimes on Feb. 19, 2013, in Taos County, N.M.
On April 17, 2017, Howieson pled guilty to a felony information charging him with carjacking on Feb. 19, 2013, pursuant to a plea agreement. According to the plea agreement, Howieson encountered two employees of a utility company just inside the fence line on his ranch. The utility workers were in their utility vehicle as Howieson drove up in his vehicle. As Howieson exited his vehicle with a loaded pistol in his pocket, one of the utility company employees exited his vehicle and explained that they were on Howieson’s property to install fiber optic cable and that the utility company had permission to cut Howieson’s lock to gain access to the ranch. Brandishing a loaded pistol, Howieson told the utility company employees to get off his property and to leave their utility vehicle. When the utility company employees refused to leave the ranch without their vehicle, Howieson told them they could get their vehicle back through the law and threatened to shoot them if they did not leave his ranch. The utility company employees then left the ranch. As they were walking away from the ranch, Howieson discharged the firearm in a different direction from where the utility company employees were located.
This case was investigated by the Santa Fe office of the FBI and the New Mexico State Police, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney George Kraehe.