ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Governor Susana Martinez’s former campaign manager is now facing time in federal prison.
Jamie Estrada admitted Monday that he routed emails meant for the governor and staffers to himself.
He changed his plea to guilty at the Albuquerque Federal Courthouse in a hearing that lasted about a half hour.
It is a much different image than the one Estrada created in May 2013. After being indicted on 16 felony charges, Estrada wrote, “…This attack on me will result in exposure of the true wrongdoers.”
But emerging from a change of plea hearing Monday, Estrada only said “no thank you,” when asked if he had any comment.
Under the agreement Estrada pleaded guilty to in Federal Court, the governor’s former campaign manager will only face two of the sixteen charges he originally faced.
“It was a wire tapping case, that was what Mr. Estrada pled to,” said FBI Special Agent Carol K.O. Lee who leads the Albuquerque FBI office.
Estrada pleaded to one count of unlawful interception of electronic communications. That’s for stealing a specific email from Governor Martinez’s 2010 election website domain. The email came from the Republican Governors Association.
“That piece of evidence contained the word confidential on it. So that that is a perfect example of, he should not have received that email,” said Damon Martinez, U.S. Attorney with the Department of Justice for the New Mexico District.
Estrada also pleaded to one count of making false statements. Federal investigators say Estrada bought the governor’s campaign website domain after she’d won the election, then redirected all the email from the website to a private Google email account. Estrada initially denied those allegations.
Prosecutors said the email theft went on from July of 2011 to June of 2012, long after Estrada was fired from the governor’s campaign. Governor Martinez says Estrada worked for her campaign for just six months before she cut him from her staff.
“He was someone of suspect character and I didn’t want him working in my administration, I didn’t give him a job,” Governor Susana Martinez said to News 13 in May 2013.
In a statement Monday, Gov. Martinez said, “This is a case about a fired former employee who wasn’t given a state job and then sought to get even…”
Of the emails Estrada stole, some were quite personal, including bank statements, pharmaceutical receipts, and personal clothing receipts. Several other emails were leaked to critics of Martinez, some of which were used to criticize her about the state’s handling of contract renewal for The Albuquerque Downs “Racino.”
The Governor also said Monday, “It would have been easier for me to not have reported this crime, nor made myself available to testify as a victim, but thousands of New Mexicans are victims of cyber crimes each and every year and that’s one reason I was willing to endure the bogus and personal smears in order to see this case through.”
As part of the deal, Estrada faces up to one year in jail or no prison time at all. A judge should decide his sentenced by the end of September 2014.
“Justice was done,” said Damon Martinez. “At the end of this process, Jamie Estrada is going to walk away a felon and the United States is going into that sentencing hearing asking for prison time.”