NM Prosecutors Urge Jurors To Convict, Parties Pledge New Thinking To Solve Interstate Water Fight,

Nov 15, 2017

New Mexico Prosecutors Urge Jurors To Convict – The Associated Press

New Mexico state prosecutors are urging a jury to convict a former New Mexico state senator on charges of fraud, bribery and violating ethical principles.

Assistant Attorney General Clara Moran on Wednesday said Sen. Phil Griego needs to be held accountable to the public for using his elected office to profit from the 2014 sale of a state-owned building in downtown Santa Fe.

State prosecutors allege Griego used his elected position and acumen as a real estate broker to guide the building's sale through approvals by a state agency, the Legislature and a public buildings commission without properly disclosing his financial interest.

Griego says he broke no laws and had attempted to avoid potential conflicts between his responsibilities as a lawmaker and opportunities for financial gain as a real estate broker.

Moran described Griego as a savvy puppeteer who used his political influence and knowledge of state government to secretively earn a $50,000 commission as a real estate broker from the property buyers.

Parties Pledge New Thinking To Solve Interstate Water FightThe Associated Press

Farmers in southern New Mexico, water policy experts, lawyers and others are all working behind the scenes to craft possible solutions that could help to end a lengthy battle with Texas over management of the Rio Grande.

The case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court and all sides say the stakes are high given uncertainty about the future sustainability of water supplies throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office, Las Cruces city officials and agricultural interests provided state lawmakers with an update Tuesday.

The court could schedule arguments early next year, but New Mexico is still open to settlement talks. Separately, the farmers and municipalities that would be affected by a ruling have been meeting regularly to build a framework for a possible settlement.

Lawyers For Man Charged In Albuquerque Officer's Death FinedThe Associated Press

The public defenders representing a man accused of fatally shooting an Albuquerque police officer are being fined for failing to show up at a hearing.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday a judge has ordered the Law Office of the Public pay $250 for skipping the last-minute hearing in September.

Defense attorneys Jeff Rein and Heather LeBlanch were both out of town at the time.

Judge Briana Zamora says they caused unnecessary delays in the trial of Davon Lymon. She says their office could have asked to reschedule or for another public defender to appear.

Prosecutors had asked for a "massive fine" or other sanction.

Lymon is facing murder and other charges in the shooting of Officer Daniel Webster during a traffic stop in October 2015.

Webster died eight days later.

Ex Sandia Labs Employee Indicted On Fraud, Money LaunderingThe Associated Press

Authorities say a former Sandia National Laboratories worker used her position and created a phony company to defraud the facility of more than $2 million.

A federal grand jury indicted 55-year-old Carla Sena of Albuquerque on Wednesday on 11 counts including wire fraud, major fraud against the U.S. and money laundering.

Most of the lab's work involves research, development and maintenance of nuclear weapons.

A former procurement officer, Sena was tasked in 2010 with overseeing the bidding for a $2.3 million contract for moving services.

The indictment said Sena prepared a bid for a company under someone else's name and leveraged other bidders' information to ensure herself the winning bid.

Sena is also accused of diverting at least $640,000 between December 2011 and April 2015 to her father's businesses.

It was not immediately known if Sena had an attorney.

New Mexico Ex-Senator Expresses Regret At TrialAssociated Press

Former New Mexico State Sen. Phil Griego is testifying at trial that he should have made a public announcement about his personal involvement in the sale of a state-owned building before its approval by the Legislature.

On trial in state district court, Griego testified Tuesday about his role in the 2014 sale of a state-owned building in downtown Santa Fe. Prosecutors allege Griego used his position as a state lawmaker to profit from the sale by guiding the transaction through state approvals without disclosing his financial interests.

Griego says he had a colleague in the House of Representatives introduce legislation for the sale, without informing him that he had been in contact with the prospective buyer.

Griego says he should have told Rep. Jim Trujillo and the "whole world" about his communication with the buyer.

Griego said he had wanted to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. He eventually earned a $50,000 sale commission.

Millions Of Miles Logged To Deliver Waste To US Nuclear DumpAssociated Press

Officials at the U.S. Energy Department's only underground nuclear waste dump say drivers have logged more than 14 million miles delivering radioactive waste to the facility in southern New Mexico since it opened in 1999.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant recently received its 12,000th shipment as part of the nation's multibillion-dollar effort to clean up Cold War-era waste left from decades of bomb-making and nuclear research.

The waste includes tools, clothing, gloves and other debris.

Officials say all the shipments from 22 federal sites around the nation have been made over the years without a serious accident or injury.

The repository began accepting shipments earlier this year following a nearly three-year hiatus that resulted from a 2014 radiation release caused by an inappropriately packed container of waste.

Democrats Take Albuquerque's Mayor Seat From GOPAssociated Press

Democratic New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller has wrestled control of New Mexico's largest city from the GOP to become Albuquerque's next mayor.

Unofficial results show Keller beating Republican Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis with 62 percent of the vote compared to 38 percent on Tuesday.

Both were seeking to replace Republican Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, who opted not to run for re-election after eight years.

Keller told supporters he would immediately start work on "rebuilding" trust between residents and the city's troubled police department. Albuquerque police are under federal court order to reform its department amid a high string of shootings.

Keller's publicly financed campaign came under fire for accepting "in-kind" cash donations. A city's ethics board ruled Monday the campaign broke campaign finance rules but did not penalize Keller.

Western New Mexico Football Coach Adam Clark Has ResignedAssociated Press

Western New Mexico University football coach Adam Clark has resigned after eight seasons.

School officials said Tuesday that offensive coordinator Chris Buckner and offensive line coach Andrew Faaumu will oversee the program during the transition period.

The Mustangs lost their first five games this season, but won three of their final four to finish with a 4-7 record.

Clark won 33 games in his coaching tenure, the third-highest total in school history behind only Al Johnson's 58 victories and Ray Brancheau's 49 wins.

In a statement, Clark said he and his family felt it was the right time for him to pursue other coaching opportunities.

Santa Fe Teen Behind Shooting Threat To Be Held Until Trial – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A Santa Fe High School student arrested for a letter that described plans for a school shooting will remain in custody until his trial.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the teenager was ordered Tuesday to stay in a youth detention center.

He and two other boys were charged last week with conspiring to engage in terrorist activity.

But charges against the others were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they can be refiled.

Prosecutors say the teen, who cried during the hearing, needs a mental health evaluation and is a danger to himself and the community.

Defense attorney Mark Dixon denied his client was dangerous.

Authorities say he came up with the mass shooting plot that included a layout of the campus and a list of targets, which included students and teachers.

Experts Say Photo Of Billy The Kid, Lawman Is Real Deal KRQE-TV, Associated Press

Experts now believe a photo purchased at a flea market shows Billy the Kid with the lawman who killed him.

A North Carolina man tells KRQE-TV that experts in forensics and facial recognition have verified the picture after several months of examination.

Frank Abrams, of Ashville, says he first noticed two years ago that two men in the group photo looked like Billy the Kid and Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett, who fatally shot the Kid in Fort Sumner in 1881.

Abrams, a self-described history buff, bought the photo for $10.

A photo of Billy the Kid discovered in 2015 was estimated to be worth $5 million.

Experts believe a picture that shows the New Mexico outlaw with Garrett would be worth much more.

Director Of The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division ResignsSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

The director of the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division resigned earlier this month for undisclosed personal reasons.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Will Duran submitted his resignation letter last month with it going into effect on Nov. 3. Duran has served as the director since November 2014.

Duran says in the letter that circumstances have changed in his life making it necessary to make changes in his career.

Duran did not return the newspaper's messages seeking comment.

Taxation and Revenue Department officials say Alicia Ortiz is currently the acting director of the division.

The division continues to face criticism over the stricter requirements on state driver's licenses that came about under compliance with the Real ID Act. Many state residents were forced take additional actions to prove their identities.

With Easy Ballot Access, Libertarian Party Seeks CandidatesBy Morgan Lee, Associated Press

A new political avenue toward statewide elected office and Congress may be opening in New Mexico as the Libertarian Party achieves major party status, giving its candidates ready access to the ballot in 2018.

Failed presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2016 won a historic consolation prize for the Libertarian Party by surpassing 5 percent of the popular vote in his home state of New Mexico, thereby lowering daunting signature requirements for Libertarian candidates.

Strong showings at 2016 elections in Iowa, Kentucky and Massachusetts also are making it easier for the Libertarians to get on next year's ballot.

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, elected in 2014 as a Republican, is giving "heavy consideration" to a run for governor under the Libertarian Party, his son and campaign adviser Blair Dunn said Monday.

State Libertarian Party Chairwoman Elizabeth Hanes says at least five people have expressed interest in the Libertarian nomination for governor, though she declined to name them.

Nursing Homes File For Bankruptcy ProtectionSanta Fe New Mexican

Two nursing homes in Santa Fe and affiliated facilities in other New Mexico cities, as well as Texas and Kentucky have filed for bankruptcy.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Casa Real and Santa Fe Care Center, as well as Preferred Care Inc. of Plano Texas and 21 nursing homes in Kentucky are seeking to reorganize under the bankruptcy code.

The homes in New Mexico and Kentucky have been under scrutiny by government inspectors, accused of inadequate care. A jury in Kentucky recommended a $28.6 million judgment against a Preferred Care nursing home.

The New Mexico Attorney General sued Preferred Care alleging it defrauded Medicaid because it did not have enough staff to meet residents’ needs in facilities in Santa Fe, Española and four other cities around the state.

Preferred Care denied the allegation. The New Mexican reports the Santa Fe facilities have faced hundreds of complaints and several lawsuits. They also received the lowest ratings possible from the federal government.

In a statement to Reuters, the company said filing for bankruptcy reorganization will allow it to keep the homes open while it restructures its finances.

Posts Threatening Shooting At Deming High Cause StirDeming Headlight, Associated Press

Anonymous social media threats have forced more than 1,000 Deming High School students to stay home as administrators worked to quell fears about possible violence.

The Deming Headlight reports Deming police dispatched officers to campus Tuesday following the social media posts this weekend.

Two posts on Snapchat circulated widely on social media alluded to a threat of a shooting at a school.

Deming Public Schools Superintendent Arsenio Romero says school officials were working with police to investigate the posts.

Three girls' basketball games scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and evening proceed as scheduled.

No arrests have been made.