SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla handed in her resignation Thursday right before a huge scandal surfaced.
The Attorney General’s office is investigating Padilla to see if she’s a thief and a tax cheat.
A search warrant affidavit details an investigation into whether Padilla was stealing from a client while she was secretary, burning the evidence and then trying to kill the investigation in her own agency in order to cover it all up.
The AG’s office got a tip from Tax and Revenue workers that something was fishy with the secretary. Workers told investigators that Padilla tried to stop the audit of Harold’s Grading and Trucking company in Bernalillo. A company she’d done the books and taxes for, for years.
Agents spoke to the company and were told in 2013 they started doing their own books when checks started bouncing.
Investigators found Padilla and her accountant husband may have siphoned more than $25,000 from the company’s bank account over the course of a year or so, transferring the money into their own account.
Padilla told investigators she burned the records from her dealings with Harold’s Grading and Trucking, but claims she was owed the money.
When investigators looked at Padilla’s accounts, they found $128,763.44 in income which was not reported. They now want to see all of her and her husband’s tax documents.
Padilla was named Secretary of Tax and Rev back in January 2011 when Governor Susanna Martinez came into office. Padilla claims she stopped doing work for Harold’s Grading and Trucking Company at that point and let her husband take over.
People at the company say she was still working for them until 2013.
The governor’s office released the following statement Thursday.
“I accepted Secretary Padilla’s resignation, effective immediately. As a former prosecutor, I take any allegations of misconduct seriously and don’t believe anyone is above the law — that is why I ordered the tax department to fully cooperate with the Attorney General’s Office during the course of their investigation. New Mexico faces pressing issues — particularly with our budget — and that must continue to be our focus as we move forward, which is why I accepted her resignation and will quickly appoint a new secretary. The professionals at TRD have achieved great success, and we must continue to make government more efficient, administer our tax law in a fair, equitable manner, and push forward on the tax reforms that brought companies like Facebook, Safelite, and Union Pacific.” – Gov. Susana Martinez
Last year, the state auditor investigated Padilla for allegedly pressuring employees to back off on an audit of an unnamed company. Thursday’s search warrant revealed it was Harold’s Grading and Trucking.
The auditor indicated at the time they suspected Padilla of doing to protect herself.
State Auditor Tim Keller also released a statement:
“There is no place for abuse of power from the highest ranking officials in the Administration. Our office’s preliminary investigation into Secretary Padilla raised a number of deeply troubling allegations of actions that put our state revenue and whistleblower employees in jeopardy. We refused to sweep it under the rug in the face of intense pressure due to the fact that she was a powerful official appointed by the Governor. With help from our partners in accountability, we hope New Mexicans will now have a tax department that is run fairly and competently.”