Bernalillo County employee accused of embezzlement

Crime

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Bernalillo County employee is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a non-profit. Court documents said Michelle Luna took money meant to redevelop and beautify west Central and used it to pay for things like her home mortgage.


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Documents filed in court accuse 49-year-old Michelle Luna of embezzling $48,000 from the non-profit, West Central Community Development Group. According to their website, the group works to improve economic growth along the west Central corridor and makes it a place families can live, work and play. Some of their special events include Albuquerque’s West Fest as well as promoting the long-awaited, $12-million Route 66 Visitors Center that will be built on the western edge of the city and will include a museum, taproom and outdoor amphitheater.

The group says Luna, the organization’s bookkeeper and treasurer, had access to their bank accounts and debit card and when she started canceling meetings and failing to submit financial statements, the nonprofit conducted an audit. They said the audit revealed Luna was allegedly using their money for her own use, spending $48,000 at restaurants, stores, buying groceries, even paying her mortgage with their debit card.

The non-profit said Luna admitted over the phone she was taking money from them and asked them to not turn her into police. KRQE News 13 found out that Luna also works for Bernalillo County.

In August 2021, Luna gave us an interview about cleaning up the bosque. The county confirmed she’s their Solid Waste education coordinator. According to the county’s website, old credit card spending reports show she spent hundreds last year and the year before on hotels and travel in Washington D.C. Other purchases show she spent money for travel purposes at Santa Fe’s Inn at the Loretto.

News 13 asked Bernalillo County if she is also being investigated for any misuse of county funds and if she has been put on leave but they declined to comment. The West Central Community Development Group said over the phone that Luna was a trusted friend and had chances to pay the organization back. They said she not only stole from them but stole from the community. Luna is charged with embezzlement, which is a second-degree felony.

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