New Mexico Divorce Lawyer Raymond Van Arnam Caught on Tape Breaking Into Home
Van Arnam has been ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution.
March 15, 2012— -- Newly released hidden surveillance video captured a New Mexico divorce lawyer raiding his client's estranged husband's house.
The video shows Raymond Van Arnam and client Melissa Stonecipher breaking into the home of Stonecipher's husband, Anthony Stonecipher.
Their mission was to get Melissa Stonecipher's belongings back from the Alamogordo home.
But Anthony Stonecipher had installed cameras around the property and they captured Van Arnam pounding and kicking the home's front door and later gaining access to the back of the house Oct. 28, 2011.
A temporary domestic order was posted on the front window stating that Melissa Stonecipher needed to schedule a time to get her belongings.
"I was personally angry with what he was doing to my client," Van Arnam said of Anthony Stonecipher. "He was bullying her and dominating her."
Van Arnam said he took drastic measures because his client tried again and again to get her property back but her estranged husband wouldn't give it to her.
Anthony Stonecipher said he was caught off guard during the incident, believing a burglar was breaking into his home, and later left the house in his car but not before getting into a confrontation with Van Arnam, who tapped on the driver's side window.
"I was beside myself, that an attorney, of all people, would just completely disregard the law and take matters into his own hands, for his client like that," Anthony Stonecipher said.
Inside the home, the camera captured Van Arnam and Melissa Stonecipher embracing in a hug that lasted nearly 30 seconds.
"Melissa was extremely upset by this sequence of events, extremely upset, and all I was trying to do was calm her down, and reassure her that everything was going to work out just fine, that's all that that was," Van Arnam said.
The video then shows Van Arnam ordering furniture to be moved out and taking down "no trespassing" signs.
Anthony Stonecipher drove by the house again and told Van Arnam he was breaking the law by trespassing and destroying private property.
"I would assume that they were thinking there would be no cameras," Anthony Stonecipher said. "But I really don't think this whole thing was planned out. I believe they just decided, hey, 'I'm an attorney, I know the people in this town, and we can get away with this.'"
Van Arnam was initially charged with felonies, which were all pleaded down to misdemeanor criminal trespass and misdemeanor larceny. Van Arnam has been ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution and serve 30 days in jail but is still allowed to practice law.
He's going to serve his sentence on the weekends so he can keep practicing. Van Arnam was facing anything from a letter of reprimand to disbarment. He was disbarred in 2002 for cocaine possession.
"Judge Gallisini was very reasonable, lenient with us, in trying to come up with kind of a plan for Ray to be able to serve those," Van Arnam's lawyer, Todd Holmes, said. "Judge Gallisini had even mentioned the possibility of serving weekends."
Melissa Stonecipher is on probation for a year after entering a plea to one count of criminal damage to the property of a household member.