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Former Cabinet secretary avoids jail time for felony convictions




  • In US
  • 2021-09-15 05:09:00Z
  • By The Santa Fe New Mexican

Sep. 15-Disgraced former New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla will avoid any time behind bars for her convictions on felony counts of embezzlement and computer access with intent to defraud or embezzle.

Thirteenth Judicial District Judge Cindy Mercer sentenced Padilla last week to nine years for each felony count but suspended all 18 years and placed the 61-year-old former Cabinet secretary on supervised probation for five years.

The sentencing comes after a Sandoval County jury found Padilla guilty in June of stealing more than $25,000 from Bernalillo-based Harold's Grading and Trucking, a client of a business she ran on the side while she headed the state tax agency under former Gov. Susana Martinez.

"We successfully secured a felony conviction in a jury trial, yet remain disappointed that corruption loopholes in the law have not been corrected by the Legislature," Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement.

Balderas was referring to Governmental Conduct Act charges against Padilla that a District Court judge dismissed. The charges are now in front of the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Padilla was also charged with a felony count of using public office for private gain. That count was stayed pending the appellate review on the other Governmental Conduct Act charges, Matt Baca, chief counsel of the Attorney General's Office, wrote in an email.

Padilla's attorney, Paul J. Kennedy, did not return messages seeking comment.

Padilla was the longtime tax chief of the Martinez administration before she abruptly resigned in late 2016 amid a criminal investigation by the Attorney General's Office.

At trial, prosecutors said Padilla transferred about $25,000 from the grading and trucking company by surreptitiously linking her credit card to the company's checking account.

As part of her sentence, Padilla has been ordered to have "no unwanted contact" with company owner Harold Dominguez or the Dominguez family. She also was ordered to pay the family $25,360 in restitution.

Harold Dominguez did not return a message seeking comment.

The sentence calls for Padilla to successfully complete 200 hours of community service within a year, submit to random drug testing, attend and complete a mental health assessment and follow the recommendations of that assessment, among other conditions.

Padilla is an Albuquerque native and graduate of the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management. After working for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in the late 1980s, she started her own accounting business in 1989.

Padilla ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for state treasurer in 2006. The next year, then-Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, appointed her to the state Gaming Control Board, where she served until Martinez appointed her as tax secretary.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

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