ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A state contractor and a consultant working for then-Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron have been named as a defendants in the theft of millions of dollars in voter-education money sent to New Mexico, according to an expanded federal indictment released Thursday.
The new allegations contained in the superseding indictment add Armando Gutierrez to the case that already included consultant Joseph Kupfer and his wife, Elizabeth "Daisy" Kupfer, a member of the state attorney general's staff assigned to work for the secretary of state.
( Read the new indictmen t . PDF document, 24 pages.)
The previous federal indictment accused the Kupfers of tax evasion.
Vigil-Giron, who faces state charges in the alleged diversion of Help America Vote Act money, is not named in the federal case. She, Gutierrez and the Kupfers were indicted on the state charges last year and pleaded not guilty.
Vigil-Giron told News 13 on Thursday she believes her state charges may soon be dropped because federal prosecutors didn't name her in the new indictment.
"They couldn't find anything because there's nothing there," said Vigil-Giron. "All the invoices are intact and they do show that all the money was spent properly."
The state case is currently in limbo after a judge ruled Attorney General Gary King had a conflict of interest and would have to hand off the case to an independent prosecutor .
Joseph Cambell, a long time Santa Fe district attorney and former defense attorney, was picked Wednesday to preside over the Vigil-Giron case. He told News 13 Thursday that even though Vigil-Giron doesn't face federal charges, that doesn't mean the state case will be dropped.
According to the new indictment Gutierrez's advertising company was paid $6.3 million under the contract in 2004-06 but only documented $3.4 million in expenditures.
Gutierrez, 63, lives in Corpus Christi, Texas, and is charged with theft of government property, conspiracy and obstruction of justice for submitting invoices prosecutors contend were false and intended to impede a federal audit. The indictment seeks the return of $2.5 million paid under the contract and forfeiture of Gutierrez's home in Corpus Christi.
The new indictment adds charges of conspiracy and theft of government property against Joseph Kupfer whose consulting company was paid $746,000 by Gutierrez's company. The indictment claims the payments far exceeded the actual work done by Joseph Kupfer.
A federal grand jury late last year accused the Kupfers reporting about $500,000 in income for 2004-06 when their actual income was more than $1.3 million.
Erlinda Johnson, the attorney representing Elizabeth Kupfer, said there is no evidence to charge her client with tax evasion.
"At the end of the day, it will become very clear that the state case against my client is nothing but speculation and innuendo," said Johnson.
The attorneys for Gutierrez and Joseph Kupfer would not comment on the new federal charges.
"The message behind this superseding indictment is that those who do business with government agencies will be held to the same high standards as government officials," U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales said in a statement released by his office.
Despite the new charges, Vigil-Giron maintains that she and her colleagues are innocent.
"Everything was done legitimately within the law," said Vigil-Giron. "Both the Kupfers and Gutierrez will be exonerated before this goes to trial. I'm almost positive of that."
Gutierrez and the Kupfers will be arraigned in federal court on Aug. 1.
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