ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Months after two powerful men were brought down in two very high-profile scandals, charges against former UNM President Chris Garcia and former District Court Judge Pat Murdoch have been dropped, as police and prosecutors look to buy more time.
Garcia, who was also a long-time professor at UNM, was arrested in June for helping run a coast-to-coast online prostitution ring that involved hundreds of working girls and more than 1,000 "johns." Garcia was charged with promoting prostitution, accused of looking for hookers to join the online site, Southwest Companions, and choosing which "johns" had access to the members-only operation.
At the end of September, more than three months after his arrest, District Attorney Kari Brandenburg dropped the charge against Garcia, saying prosecutors need more time to build their case.
"Primarily the issue is with the computers," said Brandenburg. "They are analyzing those computers that take a great deal of time and expertise."
News 13 has learned the FBI is still trying to crack the encrypted computers that investigators seized from Garcia's home and UNM office. Depending on what investigators eventually find, Brandenburg said her office will re-file charges against Garcia. He remains free without bond.
The same goes for former Judge Pat Murdoch. The chief district court criminal judge was charged in July with raping a prostitute and intimidating a witness. In August, those charges were dropped to give prosecutors more time to develop the case.
The prostitute told police Murdoch paid for sex with her eight times at his home. She secretly taped one of those encounters and sold it to undercover cops. Murdoch's defense has questioned her credibility and her motive for secretly recording him. Police are looking to see if that motive was blackmail.
Santa Fe County District Attorney Angela Spence Pacheco was named special prosecutor in the case to avoid a conflict of interest between Murdoch and Brandenburg's office.
"Based on their investigation, we will make a decision as to what charges will go forward," said Pacheco. "There could be more charges, there could be less charges."
Pacheco said she hopes to move forward with Murdoch's case by the end of the year. However, she won't say if Murdoch faces prostitution charges at the very least.
Attorneys for both Garcia and Murdoch had no comment.
Murdoch retired after 26 years on the bench about a week after he was charged.
Garcia hasn't taught at UNM for a few years but now needs permission from UNM Police or President Schmidly to be on campus.
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