New Mexico court vacates convictions against ex-tax chief
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Court of Appeals vacated on Friday two felony convictions for embezzlement against a former secretary of the state Taxation and Revenue Department because a yearslong prosecution extended beyond the statute of limitations.
The court’s order on a 2-1 split decision knocks out two convictions against ex-taxation secretary Demesia Padilla on charges of embezzlement and computer access with the intent to defraud and embezzle.
The appeal hinged on whether time was effectively paused on the statute of limitations during a change of court venue that delayed resolution of the case. Attorneys for Padilla say a final indictment was filed after a five-year cutoff date starting with the commission of the allegedly criminal conduct.
Padilla served from 2011-2016 as an appointee of then-Gov. Susana Martinez. Other public corruption charges against Padilla were dismissed previously as being too vague.
Under the vacated convictions, Padilla would have confronted a sentence of five years of supervised probation, 200 hours of community service and a $25,000 order to provide restitution to embezzlement victims.
Padilla resigned her Cabinet post in December 2016 after state investigators searched the tax agency for tax documents connected with Padilla and her husband. She was charged about 18 months later.