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Former Sen. Phil Griego guilty on five counts in corruption trial

J.R. Oppenheim
November 16, 2017 10:07 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. -- A jury in Santa Fe found a former state senator guilty on five out of eight charges in a corruption case.

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The trial of Phil Griego ended Tuesday when jurors returned with the verdict early Thursday evening, determining former lawmaker did commit bribery and fraud when he used his position to speed up the sale of a state-owned building. Griego, a Democrat, made $50,000 on the deal three years ago.

On the stand, Griego said he should have told other lawmakers of his connection to the sale but his involvement did not break state law.

"There are a lot of things that I could have done and that I wish I would have done at the time of the situation, but I didn't do it and it is what it is," Griego said in his Tuesday testimony.

But the jury disagreed. It returned with the verdict before 5 p.m., finding Griego guilty of two counts of violation of ethical principles of public service, one count of bribery, one count of fraud and one count of unlawful interest in a public contract.

He was not guilty on the second count of fraud, and failure to make required financial disclosures. A tampering with public records charge was dismissed before the trial began.

"Holding the powerful accountable is how we ensure our government truly serves the citizens of New Mexico and that no one is above the law, regardless of their political status," Attorney General Hector Balderas said.

Despite a request from prosecutors, the judge did not order Griego be taken into custody. He will be sentenced to 90 days.

Balderas said Griego could face one year to 17 1/2 years in prison for these convictions.

"Public officials are elected to do the work of the people, not to enrich themselves from their official duties while New Mexicans struggle just to get by," Balderas said. "New Mexico families deserve the highest level of ethics and service from their elected officials."

The 69-year-old Griego said nothing as he left the courthouse but his defense attorney Tom Clark spoke on his client's behalf.

"Well, it’s disappointing. I think we put on a good case," Clark said. "We had a substantial amount of evidence that indicated Mr. Griego was not guilty of bribery, not guilty of the fraud. By the same token, I respect the judicial system and respect the verdict of the jury."

A scheduling conference for another pending case will take place in 30 days. Griego cases 22 felonies and misdemeanors in that case.???

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J.R. Oppenheim

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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