CSI Santa Fe...Closing in on Big Bill?

Regular readers here at AT know that I have reported occasionally on the rampant corruption that permeated the government of New Mexico throughout the eight years of the Bill Richardson administration. Like many New Mexicans I have been frustrated by the Obama administration's foot dragging on charges against Big Bill and his cronies, motivated no doubt by Bill's status in the Democrat Party.

Even a widely-published confession to criminal activity by one of the major players hasn't been enough to prompt the feds into filing criminal charges. Other prominent Democrats, like Obama's now-deposed Car Czar, Steve Rattner, have links to the New Mexico corruption through the ties to the New York financial scandals, connections which could well explain Eric Holder's keeping the political brakes on any federal prosecutions.

However, the election last fall of a Republican governor, Susana Martinez, herself a tough former prosecutor, finally has the case moving. This week a State of New Mexico agency filed civil suits in both state and federal courts seeking recovery of some of the hundreds of millions lost by Richardson's administration in blatant pay-to-play schemes concocted within Bill's inner circle.

Richardson is not a named defendant but from wording in the lawsuit, it's impossible to believe he played no roll. Tens of millions of dollars in questionable third party payment went to the Marc Correra, son of one of Bill's closest advisors, Anthony Correra. The lawsuit charges that the older Correra,

"often purporting to speak on behalf of Governor Richardson ... instructed, requested and/or suggested that Bland cause NMSIC to make alternative investments that would benefit politically-connected individuals, many of whom made and solicited contributions, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of Governor Richardson's election campaigns."

Gary Bland is the former Richardson appointee who headed the NMSIC, the State Investment Council. The Council is now plaintiff in both suits and Bland a key defendant. That lawsuit language is telling: rarely is an individual either dumb enough or gutsy enough to purport to speak on behalf of a president a governor or any major CEO if, in fact, they are not. While investigators have yet to find the smoking gun, I'll wager that a forensic test for gunpowder residue on Bill's hands would be so glowingly positive it would require revising the upward limits.

When the scandal first broke, Marc Correra and his wife, a power-team in Santa Fe political circles, quickly and coincidentally became ex-pats in Paris with millions in New Mexico taxpayers' money, saying they moved only because Paris was their favorite place in the world. Now they're divorcing and Ms. Correra has told a Texas divorce court her husband did indeed flee in a misguided attempt to escape potential prosecution. And Eric Holder says, "Move along, folks...nothing to see here. Just move along."

Another  bit of encouragement that Big Bill may ultimately be made to stand in the dock came in a statement from Governor Martinez regarding the civil suits, "As we wait for justice in the criminal courts, we must aggressively pursue legal action of our own," which would seem to indicate this tough former DA expects such charges will be forthcoming either from the state or from a post-Holder federal justice department or better yet, both.

Is CSI Santa Fe closing in on Big Bill?
Regular readers here at AT know that I have reported occasionally on the rampant corruption that permeated the government of New Mexico throughout the eight years of the Bill Richardson administration. Like many New Mexicans I have been frustrated by the Obama administration's foot dragging on charges against Big Bill and his cronies, motivated no doubt by Bill's status in the Democrat Party.

Even a widely-published confession to criminal activity by one of the major players hasn't been enough to prompt the feds into filing criminal charges. Other prominent Democrats, like Obama's now-deposed Car Czar, Steve Rattner, have links to the New Mexico corruption through the ties to the New York financial scandals, connections which could well explain Eric Holder's keeping the political brakes on any federal prosecutions.

However, the election last fall of a Republican governor, Susana Martinez, herself a tough former prosecutor, finally has the case moving. This week a State of New Mexico agency filed civil suits in both state and federal courts seeking recovery of some of the hundreds of millions lost by Richardson's administration in blatant pay-to-play schemes concocted within Bill's inner circle.

Richardson is not a named defendant but from wording in the lawsuit, it's impossible to believe he played no roll. Tens of millions of dollars in questionable third party payment went to the Marc Correra, son of one of Bill's closest advisors, Anthony Correra. The lawsuit charges that the older Correra,

"often purporting to speak on behalf of Governor Richardson ... instructed, requested and/or suggested that Bland cause NMSIC to make alternative investments that would benefit politically-connected individuals, many of whom made and solicited contributions, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of Governor Richardson's election campaigns."

Gary Bland is the former Richardson appointee who headed the NMSIC, the State Investment Council. The Council is now plaintiff in both suits and Bland a key defendant. That lawsuit language is telling: rarely is an individual either dumb enough or gutsy enough to purport to speak on behalf of a president a governor or any major CEO if, in fact, they are not. While investigators have yet to find the smoking gun, I'll wager that a forensic test for gunpowder residue on Bill's hands would be so glowingly positive it would require revising the upward limits.

When the scandal first broke, Marc Correra and his wife, a power-team in Santa Fe political circles, quickly and coincidentally became ex-pats in Paris with millions in New Mexico taxpayers' money, saying they moved only because Paris was their favorite place in the world. Now they're divorcing and Ms. Correra has told a Texas divorce court her husband did indeed flee in a misguided attempt to escape potential prosecution. And Eric Holder says, "Move along, folks...nothing to see here. Just move along."

Another  bit of encouragement that Big Bill may ultimately be made to stand in the dock came in a statement from Governor Martinez regarding the civil suits, "As we wait for justice in the criminal courts, we must aggressively pursue legal action of our own," which would seem to indicate this tough former DA expects such charges will be forthcoming either from the state or from a post-Holder federal justice department or better yet, both.

Is CSI Santa Fe closing in on Big Bill?

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