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Thursday News Roundup: FBI Targeting Corruption In New Mexico Rural Areas

Senior NM Behavioral Health Official Resigns - Associated Press and the Santa Fe New Mexican

A senior state official who was involved in the replacement of New Mexico behavioral health services providers whose Medicaid funding was suspended is stepping down.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Behavioral Health Services acting Director Diana McWilliams is leaving to head a nonprofit in Pennsylvania.

McWilliams was part of a New Mexico delegation that traveled to Arizona in February to meet with providers which later were awarded contracts to take over for the New Mexico providers whose funding was suspended.

That trip occurred during work on an audit that eventually resulted in suspension of Medicaid funding for 14 providers. The cutoff led to the shutdown of some of the providers.

FBI Targeting Corruption In New Mexico Rural Areas - Associated Press and KOB-TV

The FBI says it's targeting corruption in New Mexico's rural areas.

According to KOB-TV, Chief Division Counsel Stephan Marshall says the FBI has made public corruption its top criminal priority.

Marshall says the FBI won't accept the attitude that a certain level of corruption is acceptable.

He says the FBI hopes residents will come forward to report wrongdoing.

Navajo Council Speaker Says He'll Be Exonerated - Associated Press and the Farmington Daily Times

The leader of the Navajo Nation's legislative branch predicts he'll be exonerated in a case alleging misuse of tribal discretionary money intended for Navajos in need.

Prosecutors had filed bribery and conspiracy charges earlier this month against Tribal Council Speaker Johnny Naize and three former tribal officials.

Criminal complaints allege that family members of Naize received $36,550 in discretionary funding in exchange for his providing $36,900 in discretionary funding to family members of current and former council delegates.

Naize at the time declined to comment on the allegations, but the Daily Times reportsthat he issued a statement Wednesday saying he believes his name will be cleared when the matter is resolved.

Naize was elected to serve a second consecutive term as speaker in January.

Albuquerque firm gets $60M Air Force contract - Associated Press

An Albuquerque-based technology firm has been awarded a $60 million contact by the U.S. Air Force.

Applied Technology Associates will be helping Air Force scientists with the development and integration of new technologies. Officials say the work will ultimately lead to better operating systems to support troops.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the contract Wednesday. She says it will help preserve jobs in Albuquerque.

The work will be performed in Albuquerque and at Kirtland Air Force Base. It's expected to be complete by March 2019.

The Air Force Research Lab has a major presence at Kirtland Air Force Base. With a $650 million budget in New Mexico, the lab is responsible for developing space vehicle technology and other technologies that include laser systems and high-power electromagnetics.

NM MainStreet Projects To Share $122K In Grants - Associated Press

The effort to revitalize some of New Mexico's traditional town centers is getting a boost thanks to $122,000 in grants.

The funding for the state's MainStreet program was announced Wednesday by Gov. Susana Martinez and Public Service Company of New Mexico. The grants from PNM will be awarded to several MainStreet organizations.

In Albuquerque, the money will be used to illuminate the historic Route 66 stretch along Central Avenue with LED neon lighting and to establish a database of economic and commercial development for the Nob Hill area.

In Belen, the worn roof of the Old City Hall and Police Station will be replaced.

In Clayton, the historic Luna Theater will be rehabilitated.

Corrales, Deming, Las Vegas and Silver City will also be receiving funds.