Updated: Thursday, 20 Aug 2009, 12:45 AM MDT
Published : Wednesday, 19 Aug 2009, 11:06 AM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A grand jury Wednesday indicted former New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Girón in an alleged swindle involving millions of dollars in public money used to promote voter education.
The 50-count indictment naming Vigil-Girón and three others lists numerous counts of fraud and embezzlement over $20,000 and money laundering over $100,000. However sources toll KRQE News 13 the allegations involve misuse of public money totaling about $3 million.
Also facing the same 50 counts are lobbyists Joseph and Elizabeth Kupfer and the president of the company hired to produce radio and TV spots before the 2004 and 2006 elections, Armando Gutierrez.
"I've had five investigators and two attorneys that have working this case for quite sometime and we want to be meticulous when we look at the evidence in a case like this," Attorney General Gary King told News 13.
News 13 contacted Vigil-Girón who declined immediate comment and said she would call back to discuss the indictment. In the past she has denied any wrongdoing in spending the HAVA money, a significant portion of which went to the production of television ads featuring her.
News 13 has not yet been able to contact the Kupfers or Gutierrez for comment.
Vigil-Girón, a Democrat, was secretary of state from 1999 through 2006 when she left office after serving the maximum two consecutive terms. The allegations in the indictment cover events from August 2004 through December 2006 with additional counts of tampering with evidence and attempting to evade taxes in early 2007.
She is charged with fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, tax evasion, and receiving and paying illegal kickbacks.
The Help America Vote Act passed by Congress in 2002 was intended to avoid a repeat of the problems that plagued the 2000 presidential election. The secretary of state's office acted as the conduit for $6.2 million in federal funds sent to New Mexico under HAVA.
A federal audit found several problems with how Vigil-Girón spent the money, and the state auditor's examination found her office overspent its total budget by $3 million while ignoring proper accounting procedures.
The attorney general's office has been investigating it for almost two years and presented the case to a grand jury.
Vigil-Girón faces 263 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
The charges against each of the defendants, according to a grand jury indictment relased Wednesday afternoon: