Trial underway in former New Mexico state senator corruption case

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A once-powerful lawmaker is now fighting allegations that he is a dirty politician.

Former state Senator Phil Griego went on trial Tuesday for fraud, bribery, embezzlement and other charges linked to the sale of a state-owned building in Santa Fe — a deal that helped him pocket $50,000.

The state has only called one witness so far. Tuesday morning, they completed opening statements.

Griego is accused of using his position as a senator to profit from the 2014 sale of a state-owned building in downtown Santa Fe by steering that deal through the Roundhouse without proper disclosure.

Since it was a state-owned building, in order to sell it, legislators were required to pass a resolution. Tuesday, the state narrowed in on the specific day the resolution passed within the Senate.

Prosecutors played a video clip that took place during the 2014 legislative session while senators were discussing the property itself, trying to prove Griego failed to disclose information relating to the sale of the building.

The defense argued too many high ranking officials had their hands in the case to put the blame on one person, while prosecutors maintain the case is quite simple and that it all comes down to a “payday” for the former senator.

Griego resigned from the legislature in 2015 at the conclusion of a Senate Ethics Commission investigation.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks. If convicted, Griego faces up to 73 years behind bars.


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