NM Auditor: Conflict of interest found in Corrections Dept. audit

A former deputy cabinet secretary at the New Mexico Corrections Department was put in charge of the financial relationship between the department and a television production company for which she had worked only months before, according to a new report from the state Auditor’s Office. It appears that Alex Sanchez waived at least $20,000 in fees owed by Lucky 8 TV, LLC, to the Corrections Department in June 2016 after having left  the company’s employ just three months earlier, the report shows. The state Auditor’s evidence for that claim is an email Sanchez sent employees of the company in which she noted the waived fees for the filming of Lucky 8’s prison reality series, “Behind Bars: Rookie Year.”

The Corrections Department could not provide any evidence or documentation that anyone other than Sanchez determined the amounts to be billed to the production company. This piece originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and is reprinted here with permission. Additionally, Lucky 8 was allowed to begin filming a third season of its show last year even though the company still owed the state $42,000 from the previous two seasons, the audit found.

Subpoenas offer first glimpse in AG’s probe of former ABQ police chief

A state grand jury has subpoenaed payroll records, documents related to legal interpretations, and correspondence between former Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz and Taser International, Inc., in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of contract rigging that Schultz has been unable to shake since they first arose in early 2014. Schultz is the focal point of three subpoenas obtained by New Mexico In Depth. They were served this summer on the Albuquerque Police Department, the city Inspector General’s Office and Taser, the nation’s largest manufacturer of electronic stun guns and body-worn cameras for police. Each recipient was ordered to turn records over to a grand jury convened at the Second Judicial District courthouse in Albuquerque on July 29. The documents offer a first glimpse into state Attorney General Hector Balderas’ criminal investigation of how the Albuquerque Police Department awarded a $2 million no-bid contract to Taser for more than 500 body-worn cameras and five years worth of online video storage.