ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - For two years there's been talk a leak in the U.S. Attorney's office helped gun smugglers and a Mexican drug cartel.
Now a jury decided the husband of a federal prosecutor in Albuquerque was the person responsible.
Danny Burnett was accused of tipping off the police chief of the border town of Columbus that he was a target of the extensive federal investigation.
Burnett was a longtime teacher and superintendent in Carrizozo when now-former Columbus Police Chief Angelo Vega was a student of his back the 1980s. During that time Burnett and his wife Paula became like parents to Vega.
The feds says Burnett tipped off Vega in 2011 telling him agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had tapped not only Vega's phone but the phones of the Columbus mayor and a village trustee.
The three of them have already have pleaded guilty to federal charges for running guns to the infamous Juarez cartel for money. More than a dozen people were charged after state and federal agents staged raids in Columbus in March 2011.
Most later pleaded guilty to various charges. Co
The feds say those guns were used in at least eight murders in Mexico.
The Columbus officials also helped the cartel run drugs into New Mexico by using the village's police cars and providing inside information to steer clear of law enforcement.
Paula Burnett was a chief criminal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney's office in Albuquerque although she insists she didn't say anything to her husband about the investigation
But a criminal complaint says Burnett told Vega that he did get the information from his wife and that she was sick over Vega's involvement.
The next day Burnett met Vega at a restaurant in Albuquerque and told him about the wiretaps and the specifics of one of the intercepted calls.
The feds say after that, the phone chatter in Columbus stopped.
Burnett faces up to five years in prison for ruining that wiretap investigation and for lying to federal agents.
Paula Burnett was not charged in the case but has been reassigned to the civil division at the U.S. Attorney's office.
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