Former New Mexico Tax and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla is facing two more felony counts now that a Sandoval County grand jury has refiled the charges.
Last year, Padilla was charged with using her position as the state's tax chief for personal financial gain, embezzling over $20,000, using computer access with intent to defraud or embezzle and 5 counts of violating ethical principles of public service.
KOB reports that a Sandoval County grand jury refiled the two felony charges against Padilla last week. Each charge reportedly carries a maximum penalty of nine years in prison.
Padilla is still expected to face trial for the felony charge of using her position to remove tax penalties against a former client of her accounting firm.
New Suit to Protect Chaco
A new lawsuit has been filed against the Bureau of Land Management over oil and gas lease sales near Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that environmental advocates and tribal groups have filed the suit because BLM continues to approve gas and oil lease sales near Chaco Park, despite public outcry.
The new suit was filed last week in federal District Court on behalf of the Western Environmental Law Center, WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club. It challenges a number of BLM well approvals and environmental assessments made since 2016. This new lawsuit picks up where a 2015 suit—filed by the same groups—left off. That suit challenged the agency’s approval of gas and oil lease sales near the site between 2010 and 2016. In May, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal District Court ruling in the 2015 case and made the agency reevaluate five environmental assessments and 25 well approvals.
The culturally significant spot has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been protected from drilling.
Border Patrol Apprehends 225 Migrants
Last week, Border Patrol agents reportedly apprehended 225 migrants attempting to illegally cross the border near the Antelope Wells Port of Entry.
According to a press release from US Customs and Border Protection, the group was mainly made up of Central American families and unaccompanied youths. Border Patrol EMT workers and the Search, Trauma, and Rescue team conducted medical screenings of the migrants before transporting them to the Lordsburg and Deming Border Patrol Stations for processing.
“Criminal organizations continue to exploit innocent human lives in order to enhance their illicit gains without regard to the risks associated with the hazardous practice,” wrote the agency. “In most cases these smugglers never cross the border themselves in order to avoid apprehension.”
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan recently told Congress that attempts to cross the border by large migrant groups were declining. At the time, he said only four large groups had been caught since the Mexican government increased its border security in June.