ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A highly paid city official is under criminal investigation after KRQE News 13 raised questions the side job he does while he was supposed to be working for taxpayers.
Lawyer Roberto Albertorio is the city's chief administrative public hearing officer overseeing a staff of eight resolving violations of city ordinances.
In return for his $105,000 salary, the city expects him to work full time at his job.
But now it appears he's been spending a lot of city time on his own business:
Recently Albertorio was escorted from his city office in southeast Albuquerque while police executed a search warrant as part of the criminal investigation.
News 13 has learned Albertorio has been quietly running a private law practice out of his city office for years at taxpayers' expense.
Over the years Albertorio has appeared as a criminal defense attorney representing hundreds of accused criminals.
News 13 has uncovered dozens of instances, including this one last week, where Albertorio represented an accused criminal in a court hearing while drawing his city salary.
You would think a city hearing officer's office would be filled with papers related to city business. Instead police found drawers of legal papers from his law practice.
For his private legal work, he uses his city post office box, his city phone number and even his city of Albuquerque e-mail address.
Albertorio is not authorized to have a second job or do any outside work. However, as chief administrative hearing officer, he has no supervisor.
That's how he's been able to get away with it for years. But his actions have now caught the attention of the police and the mayor's office.
"We think that's an extreme case of abuse and waste and basically a cheating of the taxpayers," said Rob Perry, the city's chief administrative officer. "We are absolutely astounded that this individual had done 800 cases while a city employee being paid $105,000 a year."
For his part Albertorio had nothing to say when News 13 asked questions as he was escorted from his office and out of the building.
News 13 is not the only one asking questions. Police detectives are pursuing the criminal probe, and city hall has now launched an internal investigation.
In the meantime Albertorio has been ordered to stay off city property.
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