Embattled New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran entered a not guilty plea today to charges of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and other crimes for allegedly using campaign contributions to cover personal spending at casinos. Duran was stoic during the 30-minute appearance before District Judge Glenn Ellington. She did not speak to reporters while leaving the courthouse through a side exit, and her husband at one point pushed away a television reporter’s microphone. During the hearing, Duran’s attorney raised several technical complaints about the charges filed against Duran, but the judge rejected motions to dismiss part or all of the case.
“She’s not been convicted of any offenses,” Duran’s attorney, Erlinda Johnson, said at one point during the hearing. “As she sits today, she is an elected official.”
Today’s hearing was Duran’s first court appearance since being charged last month with 64 total violations by Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office.
She was released on her own recognizance, but the judge imposed conditions of release that included not leaving the state for work duties without the court’s approval and no entering gambling establishments. However, Ellington rejected an AG’s office request that Duran not be allowed direct access to public funds while she is awaiting trial.