New Mexico’s former secretary of state Dianna Duran pleaded guilty on Friday to embezzlement and money laundering for using campaign contributions to pay gambling debts. She had resigned hours earlier, one of the terms of a plea agreement that, if approved by the judge, could spare her prison time. Speaking to reporters after her appearance before Judge T. Glenn Ellington of State District Court, Ms. Duran said, “I realized that I made some choices that were not healthy, and I will be seeking professional help.” Later, she said she had made her decision to plead guilty “in the best interests of my family and all New Mexicans.” Her sentencing has been scheduled for Dec. 14.
New Mexico: Attorney General’s office files new felony identify theft charge against Dianna Duran | Albuquerque Journal
Attorney General Hector Balderas’s office has tacked another criminal charge onto its case against Secretary of State Dianna Duran, alleging the person Duran listed as her campaign treasurer during her 2010 election bid — former state Sen. Don Kidd — did not know his name was being used and had no role in verifying Duran’s campaign reports. In addition, the AG’s office filed notice it intends to seek an enhancement to any possible sentence handed down to Duran under a high-profile but untested 2012 public corruption bill. The legal salvos capped off a week in which Duran’s attorney filed a motion to have the Attorney General’s Office disqualified from prosecuting the Duran case and Balderas moved to cut formal ties between the two offices, pending the case’s outcome.
The New Mexico secretary of state, who oversees campaign finance reporting and once bemoaned a “culture of corruption” in the state, has been accused of using her election fund as a personal piggy bank at jewelry stores, ATMs and casinos. Secretary of State Dianna K. Duran already faces allegations of financial crimes, stemming from a separate August indictment. Late Friday, the New Mexico attorney general’s office alleged in a criminal complaint that Duran also falsified campaign finance reports by forging the name of a former state Senate colleague and claiming him as her campaign treasurer. The onetime colleague, Don Kidd, a banker in southeast New Mexico, denied any involvement with Duran’s campaigns in 2010 and 2014.
The House Special Investigatory Committee met Monday for the first time to investigate fraud, embezzlement and money laundering charges against New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran and gave its chair members the authority to hire a lawyer. The mood was somber and serious as the panel of five Republicans and five Democrats discussed whether the accusations and possible violations of elections laws should lead to her impeachment. “We have a bipartisan committee who’s going to look at all the facts and look at if not only is there criminal violations – but are there ethical violations that have compromised her ability to perform her duties,” said Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuqerque, a member of the committee.
New Mexico: Dianna Duran wants more time to mount defense; AG’s Office says request misguided | Albuquerque Journal
Secretary of State Dianna Duran is asking for an extension to mount her defense against corruption charges, arguing in a court motion filed this week that more time is needed to further review whether Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office violated New Mexico grand jury laws and Duran’s right to privacy in its investigation. Among other allegations raised in the motion filed in District Court in Santa Fe, Duran’s attorney claimed the Attorney General’s Office appears to have accessed information about Duran’s personal banking accounts without having a court order or subpoena.
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.
One of New Mexico’s highest-ranking state officials is expected to enter a plea Tuesday to charges that she funneled campaign contributions to her personal bank accounts and withdrew large sums of money at casinos. Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran is due in district court to be arraigned on 64 counts of embezzlement, fraud, money laundering and other charges. The charges involve a total of $13,000 in campaign donations. It will mark her first public appearance since the charges were leveled in a complaint more than two weeks ago. She has also been a no-show at her $85,000-a-year elected post with the exception of some conference calls with staff.
New Mexico: House speaker: Committee to investigate charges against Duran | The Santa Fe New Mexican
New Mexico House Speaker Don Tripp on Wednesday notified legislative leaders and state Attorney General Hector Balderas that he plans to form a committee to begin the process of impeaching Secretary of State Dianna Duran, whom Balderas charged late last week with 64 criminal counts, including embezzlement, fraud and tampering with public records. This “special committee,” said Tripp, a Socorro Republican, will try to determine whether there is enough evidence to impeach Duran, who is in her second term overseeing the office that administers election and campaign finance laws, among other duties. The case against Duran, filed late last week by Balderas, centers on allegations that she illegally transferred thousands of dollars in campaign funds to her personal bank accounts and falsified her own campaign finance reports. Tripp asked Balderas to share his case file on Duran with the committee after it is formed.
New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran faced escalating pressure Monday to resign, as a slew of criminal charges related to her alleged use of campaign contributions to pay for personal expenses, including gambling debt, threatened to put an end to a nearly 30-year run in elected office. Top-ranking House Democrats said they were prepared to take the first steps in a possible impeachment effort if Duran did not resign, while Republican lawmakers also voiced concern about the seriousness of the charges leveled against Duran. House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, called the impeachment talk premature but said Duran’s alleged withdrawal of hundreds of thousands of dollars at casinos around the state raised concern about a possible gambling addiction, calling the situation a “personal tragedy. I’m confident the secretary of state will take personal responsibility for any mistakes she made,” Tripp told the Journal. However, Duran’s attorney said late Monday that the secretary of state is preparing to fight the charges.
Democrats and Republicans locked in highly charged battles over problems at the Albuquerque Public Schools and the work of the state auditor, among other issues, put their guns down over the weekend, at least temporarily, after Secretary of State Dianna Duran was charged with abusing the New Mexico’s campaign finance system. The allegations come from the office of Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat who accuses Duran, a Republican, of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and other charges. Duran allegedly used funds intended for her campaign instead for personal use — apparently including gambling. Instead of responding to the charges by accusing Balderas of partisan motives, the state’s top Republicans issued statements that some interpreted as placing distance between themselves and Duran — or at least not wanting to be viewed as defending her.
Secretary of State Dianna Duran was charged Friday in state District Court with fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and other crimes related to allegedly converting thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to her personal use in 2013 and 2014. At the same time, it appears she was frequenting casinos across the state and withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars at them from accounts in her name. Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas alleged 64 violations in a criminal complaint and information that said Duran shifted money between campaign and personal accounts and withdrew sums at eight casinos. Duran is a Republican in her second term; she was elected in 2010 and re-elected last year. The secretary of state, who oversees elections and campaign finance, has the role of state government ethics regulator.
New Mexico: Court upholds dismissal of corruption case against ex-secretary of state | Associated Press
A New Mexico prosecutor who lost a legal challenge seeking to revive a public corruption case against former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron said Tuesday he is considering taking it to the state’s highest court. The state Court of Appeals ruled last week that charges against Vigil-Giron were properly dismissed in November 2012 because delays in the case violated her constitutional right to a speedy trial. Vigil-Giron, a Democrat, was secretary of state from 1999 to 2006. She was indicted in 2009 on charges of fraud, money laundering and embezzlement in misuse of federal money in a voter education campaign.
A judge has dismissed corruption charges against former New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron after ruling that repeated delays violated her right to a speedy trial. Second Judicial District Judge Reed Sheppard ruled late Wednesday that Vigil-Giron did nothing to cause the delays other than file one motion asking the state attorney general’s office to be disqualified, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Vigil-Giron issued a statement saying she felt vindicated and plans a return to the public arena. She served two terms as secretary of state and left office in 2006.
The Federal Election Commission ruled Tuesday that U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whose campaign lost millions to embezzlement by treasurer Kinde Durkee, can try to go back and collect new contributions from donors whose checks were never cashed. But the FEC ruled that Feinstein, D-Calif., can’t take new contributions from donors whose money Durkee pocketed. Overall, Feinstein campaign consultant Bill Carrick said Wednesday, that leaves the senator with almost no recourse. First California Bank hasn’t released records from the Durkee-managed accounts, he said, so the campaign has no “capacity to figure out right now what money was deposited and what money wasn’t deposited.” Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood; Loretta Sanchez, D-Anaheim, and Susan Davis, D-San Diego — also Durkee clients — are in the same boat, Carrick said.
Victims of the California campaign treasurer who embezzled more than $7 million from dozens, if not hundreds, of clients’ accounts may have to hire private attorneys and scramble to replenish re-election funds even as the government’s case ended in a guilty plea Friday. Since Kinde S. Durkee, 59, was arrested in September, everyone touched by the case has been asking one question: Where did the money go? Now, those facing imminent California primaries and November’s general election are forced to consider another: What if they never find it? “Everyone is trying to figure that out, and nobody seems to know,” attorney Atticus Wegman said of the money trail. “Even if, for the past five or 10 years, she was just taking money out and spending it here or there, it’s hard to say how that would take up all the money that she pulled out.”