ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The state says it was a simple exchange that defrauded a Santa Fe hospital of at least $2.5 million.
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King announced Thursday a state grand jury has indicted Richard Crabtree, former chief operating officer of Christus St. Vincent Hospital, and Loretta Mares alleging the two conspired to give out hospital money for little or no work.
Crabtree faces 18 counts of fraud or attempted fraud and one conspiracy charges, which could get him a maximum prison sentence of 117 years if he is convicted. Mares, who also is known as Bernadette Gallegos, is charged with 11 counts of fraud or attempted fraud and a conspiracy charge, a possible total of 90 years in prison.
According to the indictments, Mares and her associates paid Crabtree at least $678,000 between early 2005 and early 2008. In exchange, Crabtree approved at least $2.5 million in payments from St. Vincent to companies owned or operated by Mares and her associates. The work done by those companies was unnecessary, shoddy or not done at all, the indictments allege.
According to his indictment, Crabtree used money he received from the scam to build a 3,680-square-foot home in Castle Rock, Colo.
The alleged fraud lasted until 2008 when Crabtree was fired by the hospital.
At a news conference King said his office has been investigating Crabtree and Mares for years, but the case required investigators to pore through around 20,000 pages of documents.
A spokesman for Christus St. Vincent Hospital said in an email that the hospital has recouped most of its losses from its insurance company. That insurance company is suing Crabtree, Mares and two of Mares' brothers to get its money back.
Mares was the live-in girlfriend of former Albuquerque mayor and congressional candidate Martin Chavez as of last December. A campaign spokesperson told KRQE News 13 in an email that the two are no longer living together but would not comment on whether the two were still a couple or not.
A District Court judge has ordered city leaders respond to a petition filed by an animal activist on the city's trap-neuter-return approach of managing feral cats.
Police responded to dozens of weather-related crashes in only a matter of hours Sunday.
A small plane crashed at about 8 a.m. Sunday morning on the Canyon Rim Trail near N.M. 502 and the entrance of Los Alamos.
Albuquerque's famous Bugg Lights Christmas can now be seen every night until Christmas Eve.
Morning Headlines and Forecast from KRQE New This Morning with Matt Mauro & Meteorologist Kristen Van Dyke.
Sunday night in Albuquerque and around the world people gathered for candlelight vigils to remember the loss of their children.