A highly paid city official is under criminal investigation …
Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 1:27 PM MDT
Published : Thursday, 26 Apr 2012, 10:10 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - When San Felipe Pueblo’s tribal judge enforces the tribe’s criminal code, the justice she dispenses comes courtesy of Albuquerque’s taxpayers.
That’s because Judge Anita Reina is paid $75,000 a year to work 40 hours a week as one of the city of Albuquerque’s administrative hearing officers. However, on nearly every recent Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Reina disappeared from her city office – sometimes for an entire morning or afternoon – and headed north on Interstate 25 to San Felipe, according to a Larry Barker investigation.
“I think it’s a deceitful action by an employee that clearly should know – she’s an administrative law judge – that when you are paid by the taxpayers of Albuquerque to work 40 hours a week, that’s what you owe them,” said Rob Perry, the city’s chief administrative officer. “Not 20. Not 29. You owe them 40 hours a week and I am very troubled by her and her supervisor’s action in allowing this to happen.”
For example, News 13 attempted to reach Reina at her city office on March 9, March 21 and April 4. She was absent each time. On April 4, News 13 followed Reina as she left her city office at 12:15 p.m. and drove 35 miles north to San Felipe Pueblo.
News 13’s undercover camera then found her at the center of much activity at San Felipe Pueblo’s Tribal Court building on Hagen Road.
In fact, News 13’s investigation found that since October, Reina has been paid thousands of dollars of salary to which she wasn’t entitled because she failed to take leave from her city job to work at San Felipe. She also was paid by the tribe at the same time.
News 13 asked Reina’s supervisor, Chief Hearing Officer Roberto Albertorio, on April 4 about his employee’s absences.
“She’s off this afternoon,” Albertorio said at the time. He also acknowledged that she was being paid by the city at that time, though he said he didn’t know where she was.
News 13 then showed Albertorio a memo Reina wrote to him saying she’d be at San Felipe Tribal Court that day. He claimed he was telling the truth when he earlier said he didn’t know where she was, but simply wasn’t familiar with the date his employee requested to have off.
As the memo indicates, Reina received approval to work outside her city employment. However, she was required to take vacation time to be able to work at San Felipe.
Albertorio told News 13 he knew about Reina’s San Felipe job, but never told the mayor’s office about it. He also said Reina “generally” put in for leave when she went to tribal court, but he didn’t know for sure.
Perry, however, did know.
“Our review of the personnel records over the last three months basically shows that Ms. Reina didn’t put in for any annual leave, vacation time,” he said. “She actually used those 20 hours per week to work a second job during city hours, 8 to 5.”
News 13 attempted to speak to Reina about the issue, but she canceled a scheduled interview. Larry Barker caught up with her outside her city office for comment.
“My degree of ethics and my commitment and responsibility for accountability to the citizens of Albuquerque is not to be questioned,” she said at the time.
However, she refused to sit down for an interview.
“I’ve communicated with my supervisor and (Perry), and that’s what’s required of me,” she said. “So if you have further questions you can contact (Perry).”
News 13 asked Albertorio, Reina’s supervisor, if he thought it was fair to taxpayers for a city employee to work only 20 hours of a 40 hour job.
“No,” he said.
Asked if he could explain his employee’s actions, Albertorio said, “I can’t explain it. “
One reason for his lack of an explanation is likely because Albertorio was doing the same thing as Reina. City investigators late last week discovered Albertorio was using his public office as a private law firm. Documents seized by police from his city office indicated that he had been representing accused criminals on city time for years.
Albertorio was escorted off city property on April 20 after the discovery and warned not to return or he’d be arrested for trespassing.
“I think it smells to high heaven,” Perry said. “Ms. Reina is going to be instructed that any opportunity for outside employment is hereby rescinded pending a full and thorough investigation into this practice. This is going to stop immediately.”
Earlier this week, Anita Reina resigned from her city job.