May 9, 2016

Judge sets hearing date in ex-Senator’s corruption trial

After weeks of recusals by judges, a district judge scheduled a preliminary hearing in the case against former New Mexico state Senator Phil Griego.

Phil Griego

Phil Griego

District Court Judge Brett Loveless met briefly with lawyers from New Mexico Attorney General’s office and Griego’s attorney Monday afternoon to schedule the initial hearings leading up to Griego’s trial.

Loveless and both parties agreed to begin the hearing process on July 5 in Albuquerque. Loveless said his schedule options are limited as he has other criminal cases already scheduled. Attorneys for the AG’s office requested that hearings that require witness testimony be scheduled in Santa Fe to avoid excess travel for witnesses.

The case was filed in First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe but all nine judges in the district recused themselves. Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed on a list of judges, including Loveless. The Supreme Court assigned the case to Loveless.

Griego is facing charges that include perjury, fraud and bribery related to a real estate deal he was a part of while he was serving as as a state senator.

The real estate deal first came to light after a report by independent journalist Peter St. Cyr while Griego was still in office. Griego later resigned amid rumors that the Senate was close to censuring him for his role in a purchase that involved his client and the state of New Mexico.

Griego admitted to violating the state constitution and Senate rules when he resigned.

In February, the AG’s office filed official charges against Griego. The following months were spent mostly trying to secure a judge for the case.