ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A 77-year-old Moriarty man was found guilty of fraud Monday. A federal jury convicted Milton Boutte of conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to court documents, Boutte, along with 60-year-old George Lowe of Fort Washington, MD, 63-year-old Jose Diaz, and 59-year-old Arturo Vargas, both from El Paso, TX, were charged with exploiting the Big Crow Program Office at Kirtland Air Force Base by conspiring to submit fraudulent invoices to the agency.

Officials say in 2004, Boutte, who was the Director of the Big Crow Program Office, and Lowe, a lobbyist, schemed with both Diaz and Vargas, who owned minority-owned small businesses that had sole-source contracts with Big Crow, to pay lobbyists, consultants, and contractors with funds they had fraudulently received from the U.S. government. The nature of the claims was disguised for lobbying services provided by Lowe as well as other unauthorized subcontracts and expenditures.

The Big Crow Program Office did not have the authority to lobby or to expend appropriated funds for lobbying activities under the contracts.

On April 4, 2018, Diaz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of fraud against the United States. He faces up to 10 years in prison for each count. On September 12, 2018, Vargas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government and faces up to 21 months in prison. On March 5, 2020, Lowe pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and faces up to 10 years.

Boutte also faces up to 10 years for the conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government charge and up to 20 years for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He will remain on conditions of release until his sentencing.

All four men are awaiting sentencing.