State senator completes prison sentence in corruption case

New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – A former New Mexico state senator whose conviction on corruption-related criminal charges helped spur state ethics oversight reforms was released from prison Tuesday.

Former Democratic Sen. Phil Griego was released on parole after 15 months of incarceration in a state corrections facility for the elderly and infirm in Los Lunas. A spokesman for the governor’s office, Tripp Stelnicki, confirmed Griego’s release.

Griego began his sentence in March 2018 after being convicted of fraud, bribery and ethical violations for using his position as a lawmaker to profit from the sale of a state-owned building in Santa Fe. Later guilty pleas to embezzlement and perjury charges lengthened his prison stay, though he also received credit for good behavior. The convictions against Griego added to a string of high-profile corruption scandals involving public officials in New Mexico.

Republican Dianna Duran resigned as secretary of state in 2015 amid revelations she used campaign funds to fuel a gambling addiction. That led to her conviction on felony counts of embezzlement and money laundering and a 30-day jail sentence combined with lengthy community service requirements.

Voters in 2018 approved the creation of an independent state ethics commission to oversee the conduct of public officials, lobbyists and government contractors.

Former Taxation and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla is contesting a felony charge of engaging in an official act for personal financial gain. She resigned from the administration of former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez after investigators raided tax agency offices in 2016. Griego has not requested clemency or a pardon from current Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

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