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Corruption Chronicles

Extortion in New Mexico

Last month we reported how New Mexico’s state treasurer, Robert Vigil, was still collecting his annual salary of $85,000 even though he stepped down after being charged with federal extortion. Not surprisingly, Vigil denies the charges.

But the government’s case against him has gained momentum now that former New Mexico Treasurer, Michael Montoya, pleaded guilty of extortion and has agreed to testify against Vigil (Tucson Citizen).

Montoya admitted in federal court this week that he got $278,500 in kickbacks from a financial adviser doing business with the state.

In his plea agreement Montoya said:

I discovered that it was quite easy to get bribes from people who wanted to keep or to obtain business with the state Treasurer Office. People would approach me and offer to help me in return for my help to them. Sometimes I would be the person who would raise this subject and at other times the other person would be the first to raise it. (Free New Mexican)

Vigil was deputy treasurer from 1998-2001. He was elected treasurer in 2002 and has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of extortion.


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