March 26, 2016

Eighth time’s the charm: Finally a judge, hearing date for Griego case

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After a spate of recusals by judges, a district court judge finally accepted the corruption case involving a former state Senator.

District Court Judge Sarah Singleton will take the case of Phil Griego, who is charged with ten counts related to corruption while he was in office. Griego resigned from the Senate last year because of a land deal.

The judge set an initial hearing for April 4 at 8:15 a.m. according to nmcourts.gov.

Singleton was the eighth judge to be assigned the case; the previous seven recused themselves from the case.

Since NM Political Report last wrote about the case on Thursday, two additional judges—Raymond Ortiz and Francis Mathew—recused themselves. There are nine judges in the district.

Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office sought a trial date at the same time they announced Griego would be facing a tenth charge.

The charges against Griego stem from a land deal involving a state-owned building in Santa Fe.

The Attorney General’s office says Griego orchestrated a land deal involving a building in Santa Fe. He received a commission on that and whether he paid enough of that commission to a broker is among the charges.

When the Attorney General filed charges against Griego in February, Griego spoke to NM Political Report and defended himself. He admitted his attorney told him not to speak to anyone about it at the time.

Griego did not carry the legislation that paved the way for the deal, though he allegedly orchestrated its passage including presenting the bill in a Senate committee.

Reporter Peter St. Cyr first reported on the land deal for the Santa Fe Reporter in 2014. The story focused on Griego brokering the sale of a Santa Fe building for the Seret family. At the time, no one knew that Griego violated the state constitution by benefiting from legislation that passed the Legislature.

The Seret family had a lease with the state on a Santa Fe building that included a clause that gave them the first right of purchase at fair market value if the state ever decided to sell the property.

Griego asked Rep. Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, to carry the legislation for him.

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