NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Former New Mexico Tax and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla has had her conviction overturned on a mistake by the attorney general’s office. It’s a long-awaited legal win for Padilla.
“We’re of course very grateful for the court’s opinion. You can tell from the opinion they worked long and hard on it, took a good hard look at the case,” said Paul Kennedy, Padilla’s attorney.
Padilla was convicted of embezzling $25,000 while doing accounting work for a Bernalillo grading and trucking firm. At the time, Padilla was also the Tax and Revenue secretary under Governor Susana Martinez.
The investigation of Padilla’s actions began in 2015 and found that Padilla’s personal credit card was linked to a business checking account. According to court documents, the crimes happened between December 2011 and January 2013. Padilla maintained she was owed the money.
The attorney general’s office under Hector Balderas charged Padilla in 2018 in Santa Fe. Padilla’s attorney argued the charges were filed in the wrong district court, so the charges were dropped.
In August 2019, she was indicted in Sandoval County, but her attorneys filed a motion to dismiss, claiming the six-year statute of limitations ran out in January 2019. A district court judge denied the motion but left it open to be appealed again.
On Friday, Mar. 31, 2023, the appeals court wrote that Padilla was charged after the six-year statute of limitations had run out. The judge ordered that her case be dismissed.
“She’s also feeling very grateful and hopes that this will soon be over,” said Kennedy. KRQE asked what he had to say to people who think Padilla may have been let out on a technicality.
“That wasn’t the only issue on appeal. We had other substantive issues on appeal, but because the court took that issue and disposed of the case, they didn’t have to look at the other issues,” said Kennedy.
KRQE reached out to Balderas but has not heard back. A spokesperson for the current Attorney General, Raul Torrez, said the office is reviewing the court’s decision.