September 29, 2016

Corruption trial for former state senator to start Oct. of 2017

Andy Lyman

Former State Sen. Phil Griego in District Court in July, 2016.

A state district court judge set the trial date on corruption for a former state senator for October of 2017, and set aside three weeks to complete the trial.

Former State Sen. Phil Griego in District Court in July, 2016.

Andy Lyman

Former State Sen. Phil Griego in District Court in July, 2016.

Former State senator Phil Griego faces multiple felonies related to a real estate deal from when he was in office.

Second Judicial District Judge Brett Loveless also dismissed a lawyer representing the legislature Thursday afternoon, ruling information Hnasko obtained while interviewing the San Juan Democrat as part of a legislative ethics hearing would not be part of the discovery process for the trial. Legislative Council Service (LCS) attorney Thomas Hnasko requested to not be interviewed by prosecutors with the New Mexico Attorney General’s office, citing privileged information he obtained through previous interviews.

Loveless said the information Hnasko obtained is protected by the opinion work product doctrine, essentially an attorney client privilege.

The hearing was the latest in the corruption case against Griego. The AG’s office successfully provided enough probable cause that Griego committed a handful of felonies related to  brokering a real estate deal in Santa Fe while in office.

Griego represented a family, the Serets, as a realtor in the purchase of a state owned building. Griego is accused of using his position as a state senator to push the deal through. The deal  involving a state-owned building required legislative approval. Loveless asked Assistant Attorney General Zach Jones why the prosecution could not interview the Serets for similar information. Jones maintained that the Seret family would not provide unbiased information.

“I think the Serets have skin in the game, so to say,” Jones said.

Griego waived his appearance, but his lawyer Tom Clark offered up his opinion on the matter.

“This corrupts the legislative process, potentially,” Clark said.

Clark went on to call the attempt by the AG’s office a “fishing expedition” into the mind of Hnasko.