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Sunday, September 6, 2015

New Mexico: Gambling costs some more than money

Gambling costs some more than money

PUBLISHED: Sunday, September 6, 2015

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Here are a few New Mexico cases in which criminal activities allegedly covered gambling activities.
  • Dianna Duran.
    Dianna Duran.
    Secretary of State Dianna Duran faces 64 counts of embezzlement, fraud and other charges for converting thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to her personal use in 2013 and 2014, in part to cover her gambling activities. The complaint shows that Duran withdrew a total of more than $425,000 in 2013 and 2014 from her banking accounts while at Native American casinos. The charges focus on 19 transactions totaling $13,000 regarding campaign funds – some infusing money into her overdrawn personal accounts that then allowed her to continue gambling.

  • Nora Chee and Karl Candelaria were convicted by a Bernalillo County jury in July on 35 counts of embezzlement and other charges for stealing about $270,000 from ATC Healthcare Staffing Services, where Chee worked as an accounts-payable bookkeeper. Court records show many of the fraudulent withdrawals where made at casinos. Both are scheduled for sentencing in October.

  • Molly Martinez, 63, of Las Vegas pleaded guilty in March to charges that she embezzled more than $200,000 from Rogers Mortuary in Las Vegas from 2005 to 2011. State investigators said that Martinez’s gambling activities since 2002 totaled $785,653 despite her average salary of about $26,000 a year.

  • Robin Cash, then 56, of Albuquerque was sentenced in January 2014 to 24 months in federal prison on embezzlement and tax charges for making unauthorized withdrawals of about $203,000 at casinos in New Mexico and Las Vegas, Nev. The funds were drawn from the bank account of La Pasada Halfway House in Albuquerque, where Cash worked as executive director. A federal judge also ordered her to pay $202,775 in restitution and $66,575 to the Internal Revenue Service for money she embezzled from 2008 to 2010.

  • Norma Mermejo, then 62, of Picuris Pueblo was sentenced in June 2013 to five years probation and ordered to pay $132,000 in restitution to the pueblo for embezzling that amount while working as a file clerk in the pueblo’s accounting office from 2008 to 2010. She admitted using the money to support her gambling habit and to pay bills, according to news reports.

  • Rebecca “Becky” Serrano, then 46, of Española pleaded guilty in 2011 to two counts each of embezzlement and tax evasion for stealing $160,000 from her former employer, Jemez Physical Therapy in Los Alamos, from 2005 to 2008. State District Judge Michael Vigil placed her on five years probation and ordered her to stay away from casinos or gambling establishments, and to seek counseling for gambling addiction.

  • Former Sheriff Greg Solano.
    Former Sheriff Greg Solano.
    Former Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano pleaded guilty in 2011 to five counts of fraud for selling $73,364 in county property on eBay, including body armor and handcuffs. He withdrew more than $3,000 from ATMs inside casinos in New Mexico and Nevada over a 22-month period and acknowledged participating in poker tournaments in Las Vegas, Nev., but denied in court that he had a gambling habit.

  • Kathy Borrego.
    Kathy Borrego.
    Kathy Borrego, 51, pleaded guilty in February 2010 to six counts of embezzlement for taking an estimated $3.4 million from Jemez Mountain School District, where she worked, to gamble at New Mexico casinos. She was found asphyxiated in her home near Abiquiú in May 2010 just days before her sentencing hearing, where she faced up to 41 years in prison and a $54,000 fine.

  • Jeffrey Wright, 42, was sentenced in 2006 to eight years in federal prison and ordered to pay $4.2 million in restitution for embezzling $4.97 million from Union Savings Bank in Albuquerque, where he served as vice president and chief financial officer. His attorney told a federal judge that Wright stole the money from 2000 to 2005 to finance his gambling addiction.

  • Karen Yontz.
    Karen Yontz.
    Karen Yontz, 50, a criminal investigator for the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, was shot to death by police in May 2003 after she attempted to rob New Mexico Bank & Trust in Albuquerque using a pistol and a state-owned car. Yontz had confided to friends and family that she had become addicted to gambling after visiting New Mexico tribal casinos to play video poker. She was killed in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant after she pointed a gun at police officers.

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