A judge has dismissed five of the charges leveled against former New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla in her embezzlement case.
Last December, Padilla, one of former Gov. Susana Martinez's Cabinet appointees, pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of embezzlement and corruption. She was accused of stealing nearly $25,000 from former accounting client Harold's Grading & Trucking and using her position as Taxation and Revenue Secretary to interfere with a tax audit—both of which are felony offenses. She was also charged with five misdemeanors related to allegations that she had improperly accessed the confidential tax records of former clients using a state system.
Last week, KOB reported that Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer dismissed the five misdemeanor charges, saying Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office filed the complaints under an ethics statute that was inappropriate for the case. The AG's Office says it has asked the appellate courts to review the dismissal.
Padilla still faces both felony charges.
Leaders Call For Border Action
A group of law enforcement officials and county commissioners sent a letter to the state's congressional delegation, reportedly saying they are facing an immigration crisis at the state's southern border and asking for a commitment to President Donald Trump's immigration policies.
According to KRQE, a number of sheriffs and county commissioners from New Mexico's southern regions are claiming that they have been dealing with a rise in illegal drug seizures and human trafficking. Otero County Commission Chairman Couy Griffin told reporters that in April, the dollar amount of all drugs that were seized was around $61,000. He said it was only around $3,500 in February and $23,000 in March. Griffin said the rise is a direct result of “an unsecured border.” In April, Border Patrol shut down New Mexico's interior border checkpoints. In response, Otero County Commissioners unanimously voted to declare a state of emergency and requested that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham send National Guard troops to man the checkpoints. The request was denied.
County leaders are now asking that National Guard troops be sent to man the border so Border Patrol agents can return to their posts at the interior checkpoints.
Low-Level Arrests Up
New Mexico State Police have made hundreds of arrests in Albuquerque over the past month. Many of those arrests were reportedly made in situations where city police would have been barred from acting.
As part of the new Metro Surge Operation, about 50 state police officers were assigned to patrol Albuquerque in an attempt to curb a reported rise in crime. KOAT reports that state police have been apprehending suspects that the city's police force would have been unable to arrest. A directive from the Albuquerque Police Department two years ago forbids officers from arresting suspects involved in nonviolent misdemeanors such as shoplifting, possessing drug paraphernalia and criminal trespass. State police, however, have no such limitations, and have reportedly been arresting a number of low-level suspects.
Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association has praised the actions of the state police to reporters, saying, “Part of the problem with Albuquerque's crime is because the Albuquerque Police Department is handcuffed.”