November 16, 2017

Former state senator guilty on five of eight charges in corruption trial

A jury found former State Senator Phil Griego guilty on five of the eight charges he faced after a two-week long corruption trial on Thursday.

The jury found Griego guilty on charges of one count each of fraud, bribery, having an interest in a state contract and violating ethical principles of public office. The jury found Griego not guilty on a second charge of fraud, filing false financial disclosure and perjury.

Some charges include at least one year of jail time and up to 17 and a half years.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information comes in.

It took the jury less than eight hours to reach the decision.

“Holding the powerful accountable is how we ensure our government truly serves the citizens of New Mexico and that no one is above the law, regardless of their political status,” Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement after the verdict. “Public officials are elected to do the work of the people, not to enrich themselves from their official duties while New Mexicans struggle just to get by. New Mexico families deserve the highest level of ethics and service from their elected officials.”

The trial centered on a real estate deal that the San Juan Democrat helped shepherd through the legislative process. After the Legislature approved of the sale of a building in Santa Fe, Griego ended up personally profiting off the deal by brokering the sale of the building to a prominent Santa Fe family.

Griego’s team argued he did not violate state law and that others in the Senate knew about the deal.

Griego resigned from the Senate in 2015 after his role in the deal came to light. Griego admitted to violating Senate ethics rules as well as the state constitution when he resigned. He was then charged with eight crimes a year later, in February of 2016..

High profile legislators including Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, were among those who testified in the case.

Griego himself testified in his own defense, tearing up when he read his resignation letter.

In his closing argument, Griego’s attorney, Tom Clark, said that three state officials lied on the stand about not knowing about the deal.

The jury still found in favor of the state.

When the legislature approved the sale of the building, the Seret family bought the building—and Griego received $50,000 for brokering the sale.