ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The 2019 edition of the Best of Larry Barker highlights some of the best investigations from one of the most decorated investigative reporter in New Mexico. This past year Larry Barker’s investigations have changed state law, undercovered the whereabouts of disappearing statues and showcases criminal cases that have vanished.
One major investigation that sparked a state probe could eventually bring criminal charges. It involved more than $1.7 million of tax-payer money which was paid out in the last days of Gov. Martinez’s administration. Six state employees filed claims with New Mexico’s Risk Management Office in November of 2018 claiming harassment, hostile work environment, women being passed over for a promotion, unfair treatment and retaliation by then-State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.
All the claims were confidentially settled by year’s end. Larry Barker found that New Mexico’s Risk Management Office paid public money to keep damaging allegations about the ex-governor from going public.
The secret settlement sparked an investigation in September which focused on a clandestine payment state officials kept secret for years. Larry Barker found a $200,000 check at the center of a political scandal that reached once again all the way to the top during the Susana Martinez Administration.
After Larry Barker’s investigations, the state started it’s own investigation. State Auditor Brian Colon revealed his findings in November. The auditor says close to $3 million was paid out in those secret settlements. He says the way they were handled was to protect the former governor’s reputation and keep embarrassing information from being released.
Colon looked into 18 out of court settlements that totaled more than $5 million dollars during the Martinez Administration. He found only six claims were handled properly and say $2.7 million was paid out claims that were never investigated. Colon says he has referred his findings to the Attorney General’s Office. The A.G.’s office says they will work with the ethics commission and local prosecutors to ensure the appropriate action.
If you have a life or death medical emergency, the last thing you want to worry about is the bill. A four-month Larry Barker investigation in January uncovered a little known loophole in the health care system.
It’s leaving patients with outrageous bills and bankrupting New Mexico families.
It ranks among New Mexico’s most shocking murders. Yet, it’s a case most of never heard about. A frail 87-year-old educator was ruthlessly murdered inside his Santa Fe home.
After a lengthy investigation, detectives name a suspect and a motive 13 years ago. The case was never prosecuted because the District Attorney’s office lost the file.
In October, Larry Barker discovered a majestic gift to the City of Albuquerque that was literally “out of this world.” Standing more than 11-feet tall and weighing around 3,000 pounds, the monumental object was to be unveiled with big fanfare last fall. However, it’s not at the Albuquerque Sunport. It disappeared and Albuquerque officials are uncharacteristically quiet about where it went.