Scandal plagues Miss New Mexico pageant
October 09, 2018 10:38 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Several former Miss New Mexico contestants have been robbed of their scholarship money, according to documents obtained by KOB.
Earlier this month, investigators with the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office executed a search warrant on the home of Greg Smith, the beauty pageant’s former executive director.
According to the AG’s office, Smith was in charge of the Miss New Mexico Scholarship Organization’s finances from 2015 to early 2018.
Smith did not return KOB’s requests for comment.
However, according to a search warrant, investigators raided his house in early October and seized several pieces of potential evidence including documents related to the Miss New Mexico pageant, two computers, a digital camera and a cell phone.
Investigators said Smith left the organization owing about $54,000 in unpaid scholarships and made several “questionable transactions.”
Among the transactions was a $48,000 transfer from the NMMSO accounts to his personal bank account.
A spokesperson for Attorney General Hector Balderas told KOB, "We can confirm that the Office of the Attorney General has an on-going investigation and did execute a search warrant at Mr. Smith's property in Elida. It would be improper to comment beyond the publicly filed documents at this time."
According to the search warrant, Smith also used the beauty pageant’s debit cards to get more than $3,800 cash back from purchases made at Walmart and CVS.
He also allegedly transferred $1,700 to his own ranching company, Norm Lovell Genetics, which sells Angus semen, according to investigators.
Meanwhile, a pageant intern told investigators, Smith sold raffle tickets for two years for an ATV to raise money for the group’s scholarship fund but took the ATV home when he left the organization.
Smith is also accused of overcharging contestants for services provided by vendors, not paying those vendors and forcing contestants to solicit donations by pretending to be a nonprofit.
Current Miss New Mexico, Ashley Fresquez, said she was devastated to hear about the alleged corruption but happy that the contestants have a new executive director, Rhonda Haynes.
Fresquez said, "Hopefully, we can get those girls their money because they deserve it. They work hard for it and hopefully it never happens again."
Haynes sent KOB a statement and said, “We are re-building Miss New Mexico from the ground up.”
According to Haynes, the group gave out $11,000 in scholarships this past year but hope to increase that in the coming years.
She added, “Currently, we have three towns with local competitions. We are looking for new local directors from all cities across New Mexico that would like to join our great team! We are also looking for candidates to compete. Our organization is going to focus on providing scholarships, empowering young women and promoting community service.”
Updated: October 09, 2018 10:38 PM
Created: October 09, 2018 10:32 PM
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