ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – More changes are coming to the New Mexico State Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission. Tuesday the director was fired amid allegations of fraud and embezzlement.
Kimberly Greene tried to resign earlier, but after meeting behind closed doors, the board came out and announced it was ready to terminate her instead and also get rid of the program director position.
“These people are governor-exempt positions, so we will not be giving a reason for terminations,” said Karen Montoya, acting chair of the MLK Commission.
Greene is under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office for alleged fraud and embezzlement. Search warrants detailed checks issued to Greene and what’s believed to be a forged invoice for more than $51,000. Greene did not attend the meeting.
“The children are my heart,” said a tearful Rosalind Jones, MLK program director, who lost her job because there’s not enough money to pay her.
“Whatever the outcome is, I hope it’s positive and it benefits the children,” said another employee, Cheryl Yazzie, expressing support for the MLK Commission.
The program is designed to promote King’s principles and philosophies and help New Mexico’s youth.
“Why is it when the MLK Commission has a problem, the solution is to gut it?” concerned citizen Khadijah Bottom said when addressing the board.
Conrad Carrington also expressed support to keep the program in operation. “We cannot afford to be disenfranchised as a people,” he said.
For now, no criminal charges have been filed in the case, and investigators who raided the facility last month are now following the money out of the commission’s budget.
The budget ranged from $300,000 to $400,000 a year, according to Tim Keller, state auditor.
“The scope which we were investigating, as part of the audit, is about $100,000 worth of transactions,” he said.
“We want to make sure that the commission can keep doing what it does for kids and New Mexico, and then we’ll handle the investigation and the audit separately,” Keller added.
No criminal charges have been filed, and the MLK Commission will look into hiring an interim director at its next meeting.