Former New Mexico State Senator Gets 18 Months Prison Term – The Associated Press
Former New Mexico Sen. Phil Griego will spend 18 months behind bars for fraud, bribery and other convictions stemming from allegations that he misused his position to profit from a real estate deal.
District Court Judge Brett Loveless sentenced Griego on Friday to a 12-year-prison term, but waived all but 18 months.
The former prominent Democrat also was ordered to pay roughly $47,000 in fines and serve five years of supervised probation upon his release from prison.
Citing the need to restore the public's trust in New Mexico's elected officials, prosecutors had requested that Griego spend at least 10 years in prison and pay hefty fines for his crimes.
The defense said a lengthy prison sentence would amount to a death sentence for the 69-year-old Griego, who was described as having significant health issues. Attorney Tom Clark accused the state attorney general's office of seeking "the complete annihilation" of his client in the name of justice.
Santa Fe Mayor Denies Sex Assault Allegations – The Associated Press
Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales is denying allegations of decades-old sexual assault that have been reported to authorities by a female relative.
Gonzales called the allegations slanderous. The Democrat also characterized the claims as being part of a political attack.
State Police Lt. Elizabeth Armijo confirmed Thursday that a woman came forward with allegations that she had been sexually assaulted from the late 1970s into the early 1980s. Armijo declined to name the alleged suspect as no charges have been filed.
State police plan to move forward with an investigation after consulting with the district attorney's office about concerns with the statute of limitations.
Gonzales earlier this week announced he was ending his bid to seek the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, saying his heart was not in the race.
New Mexico Governor Signs Off On Funding For Brine Well Fix – The Associated Press
Gov. Susana Martinez has secured state funding to help shore up a giant cavern in southern New Mexico that is on the verge of collapse.
The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the Republican governor on Thursday signed into a law a bill that redirects a portion of the vehicle excise tax to generate $30 million over three years to address the brine well near Carlsbad.
The cavity underneath the edge of the city was caused by the extraction of a salt formation. Experts expect an impending collapse, which could take with it a busy highway interchange that leads to two national parks.
Carlsbad and Eddy County have committed $4 million each in spending on the problem in additional to the state funding.
Hobbs Priest Wanted For Sexual Assault Turns Himself In – The Associated Press & Las Cruces Sun-News
A southeastern New Mexico priest facing sexual assault charges has surrendered to authorities.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Rev. Ricardo Bauza voluntarily surrendered to Hobbs police this week more than three months after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Bauza had been wanted by authorities since last October following allegations that he got into a shower with an adult male, and washed the victim's body with a loofah in the church rectory at St. Helena in Hobbs.
His arrest came less than a week after the alleged victim in the criminal case filed a civil lawsuit against Bauza and the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces.
According to a 15-page criminal complaint filed, two male church members also told police Bauza showed them cell phone photos of his genitals.
Lawmakers Pass Guardianship Reform Bill – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press
A bill aimed at overhauling New Mexico's guardianship laws passed the legislature and now goes to Gov. Susana Martinez.
The Albuquerque Journal reported the Senate passed the bill Thursday after it passed the House. The reforms are designed to increase state oversight and public access to information regarding professional guardians and conservators who manage finances and care for vulnerable elderly and disabled people.
The measure includes more stringent reporting and financial accountability measures. It also requires that conservators be bonded or secure other asset-protection.
Those placed under guardianship or conservatorships are typically elderly, those with dementia or Alzheimer's or others who need help with their decision-making or finances.
Currently, guardians and conservators proceedings are secret and families have complained about being barred from visiting or communicating with their loved ones once a professional guardian is appointed.
New Mexico Governor Won't Discuss Preference On Successor – Associated Press
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has declined to say whether she will vote for the sole Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2018 elections.
Martinez was asked Thursday at a news conference whether she will vote for Republican Congressman Steve Pearce to be the next governor. She said that she is not going to answer that question.
Pearce is giving up a firm hold on New Mexico's southern congressional district to run for governor.
Martinez cannot run for re-election in 2018 to a third term. She says the next governor will inherit a state government in strong financial shape, and that the local economy is improving.
Pearce has highlighted the need to reshape New Mexico's economy and says he is alarmed that people are leaving the state to look for work.
DA Confirms Assault Allegation Against Santa Fe Mayor – Albuquerque Journal
Santa Fe Major Javier Gonzales is facing allegations of sexual assault by a woman who is a relative, who says they happened more than 30 years ago.
The Albuquerque Journal reported District Attorney Marco Serna confirmed his office received a report from the State Police on the allegations.
The woman contends the incidents began when she was 8 years old and ended when she was around 14. Gonzales said the allegations have been around for years and are slanderous. He added they were found to be false during proceedings for his divorce.
New Mexico State Police told the Journal they are conducting an investigation. They did not name Gonzales, but said the investigation will focus on allegations “from a woman alleging she had been sexually assaulted from the late 1970s into the early 1980s.”
Governor Praises Lawmakers' Budget – Associated Press
Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is complimenting state lawmakers for approving a fiscally responsible budget that provides more money for education, public safety and business incentives.
Martinez said Thursday that she believes her administration is leaving state finances and the economy in better shape than when she took office in 2011.
A budget bill sent to the governor would increase state spending by 4 percent in the coming fiscal year and leave 10 percent spending reserves in case of an economic downturn.
The former prosecutor praised criminal justice reforms approved by the Democrat-led legislature but lamented that it did not include broader child abuse penalties that she supports.
Martinez signed a bill Thursday to help shore up a man-made cavern on the verge of collapse underneath two highways on the outskirts of Carlsbad.
UNM Football Coach's 30-Day Suspension To Start On Saturday – Associated Press
University of New Mexico officials say the 30-day suspension of head football coach Bob Davie will begin Saturday.
Interim President Chaouki Abdallah announced Thursday that Davie's unpaid suspension will end on March 18.
In the meantime, UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez will determine coaching assignments for the Lobos' football program.
Abdallah announced the suspension last week after the school released the results of two recent investigations involving Davie and the football program.
The investigations examined whether Davie and his coaching staff interfered with criminal investigations or misconduct cases involving players.
UNM's Board of Regents decided Tuesday not to accept Davie's appeal of the suspension.
Davie is two seasons into a six-year contract that runs through the 2021 season and pays him $822,690 annually, not including bonuses and incentives.
UNM Police Arrest A Man Seen Waving A BB Gun On Campus – Associated Press
University of New Mexico police say a man seen waving a BB gun on campus has been arrested.
They say 45-year-old Vine Deloria was taken into custody Thursday after allegedly pointing the gun at a restaurant's drive-through customer.
UNM police say there was no report of gunfire or injury and no indication the man was trying to rob anyone.
They say Deloria is being held on suspicion of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Campus police say the situation was never considered an active shooter situation on campus and they had no reason to believe Deloria was threatening students, staff or faculty.
Abortion-Rights Supporters Push Back Against Gains By Foes - By David Crary, Associated Press
Abortion-rights supporters are fighting back this year as never before against gains made in the past decade by opponents.
The initiatives unfolding this year aspire to at least raise the issue of reproductive rights even in conservative states that have passed the toughest anti-abortion laws.
On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood announced an initiative of its own aimed at promoting reproductive health care initiatives in all 50 states over the coming months.
They include a bill in Maine that would allow nurse practitioners and physician's assistants to perform abortions.
And New Jersey's new Democratic governor has promised to sign a bill to restore state funding for Planned Parenthood.
Because of increasing restrictions in many conservative states, abortion clinics in several states without such barriers, including Colorado and New Mexico, are experiencing an influx of women crossing state lines to access abortion.
As of yet, according to Planned Parenthood, this is not a phenomenon that has been explicitly addressed in legislation.