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Extortion, Voter Fraud Rock New Mexico Town

From the Texas El Paso Times:

New Mexico takes over Sunland Park: Audit finds misappropriation of city money, more

Daniel Borunda
Posted: 05/15/2012

SUNLAND PARK — The state of New Mexico took over fiscal oversight of Sunland Park on Monday after a state audit found widespread fraud, criminal violations and misappropriation of city funds, including money used to pay for prostitutes in Mexico and improperly forgiving some residents’ utility bills.

State Auditor Hector Balderas announced the findings of a special audit into the government of a small city still struggling to name a new mayor after the previous mayor-elect was arrested on extortion and other charges

The 80-page audit report listed 27 separate cases regarding misappropriation of money from the city’s Border Crossing Fund, misuse of travel and per diem payments, violations of the Open Meetings Act, and other problems.

Balderas said the audit confirmed that $42,161 was used from the Border Crossing Fund to pay invoices from EnviroSystems Management Consultants, Inc. The invoices were allegedly reimbursements for alcohol, strip clubs and even prostitutes for Daniel Salinas, then-mayor pro tem, and the city’s public information officer, Arturo Alba, during a lobbying trip to Mexico.

Money from the border fund was also used to pay for a campaign video for Salinas and was used to pay for a private investigator who filmed a hidden-camera video showing one of Salinas’ political rivals with a topless dancer.

The audit reported that the city issued a contract for $2.4 million to EnviroSystems Management Consultants without competitive bid requirements. "They used it (the Border Crossing Fund) as a private slush-fund account," Balderas said

In 2010, the Sunland Park City Council improperly forgave about $200,000 in utility bills for some residential customers in violation of state law prohibiting donations from the government, the audit stated

Former City Manager Jaime Aguilera, according to the audit report, told auditors that in several cases Salinas ordered Aguilera to adjust bills of certain customers regardless of whether they qualified for the city’s assistance program. In one case, a customer’s bill was reduced from $767 to $196

And there’s more, from Fox News:

Voter fraud allegations in mayoral election rock New Mexico city

By Eric Shawn
Published May 17, 2012

Sunland Park, N.M. – There is perhaps no other city in the country like Sunland Park, N.M.

The dusty border town minutes from El Paso, Texas, has been called "a city in chaos" by the state auditor, because a slew of public officials are facing felony charges that they ran City Hall like a personal piggy bank, tried to steal an election in order to remain in power and ruled the 14,000 residents through intimidation and fear

"It started with extortion charges, and from that it then led us to the voter fraud cases," says Dona Ana Third Judicial District Attorney Amy Orlando, who is prosecuting the growing case.

So far, her office has charged 12 people, many public officials and city employees, including 28-year-old Mayor-elect Daniel Salinas, who faces dozens of charges in four separate cases. He was barred from taking office, and the city has been without a mayor since the election on March 6. Isabel Santos is serving as mayor pro tem in the meantime…

"The whole common scheme was to get Mr. Salinas elected," Orlando told Fox News. "It was all done to further Daniel Salinas and the other people who wanted to stay in control of all the money, all the resources, which just hurts all of the citizens of Sunland Park.”

Among the allegations are charges that city workers registered people who didn’t even live in New Mexico and convinced them to vote for Salinas during early voting.

In addition, absentee ballot applications were allegedly intercepted before reaching the city clerk, so that Salinas’ opponents could not hand them out to their supporters.

"They pressured the poor, old people, the people who don’t know English. They were forced to sign without knowing what they were signing. It’s incredible, it’s disgusting," mayoral candidate Gerardo Hernandez told Fox News.

Hernandez says he was ahead on election night during in-person voting, but after the absentee votes were counted, he lost to Salinas by 84 votes. He charges the election was stolen from him "by manipulating the absentee and early voting." …

Prosecutors are also investigating about 170 votes that they believe are fraudulent, including the ballots of residents of nearby El Paso who illegally voted in Sunland Park.

One couple, Juana and Arturo Estrada, told Fox News that the director of the Sunland Park Senior Citizens Center, Silvia Gomez, told them that they could register and vote in Sunland Park, even though they live across the state border.

"I told her we live in Texas,” said 56-year-old Arturo Estrada, who came to the United States from Mexico when he was 18 and worked as a carpenter in Chicago to support his family until he retired. “She said no problem,” and then registered Arturo and his wife, Juana Estrada, for the upcoming election…

So far, prosecutors have found 13 people who were registered to vote from her house, including the Estradas

Sure, this is just a local story, but it’s probably not as limited as we would like to think.

By the way, for some reason there is no mention of the political affiliation of any of the alleged perps in either article. But I think you can probably guess it.

New Mexico is sounding more and more like Old Mexico every day.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, May 17th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

9 Responses to “Extortion, Voter Fraud Rock New Mexico Town”

  1. untrainable says:

    Finally, an adequate illustration of the fruits of Obama leadership. Salinas and his political/criminal partners are just doing what Obama’s leadership has taught them. Slush funds, voter imtimidation, voter fraud, blah blah blah. Upstnading young democrats all.

    I love this… invoices were allegedly reimbursements for alcohol, strip clubs and even prostitutes for Daniel Salinas, and then money was used to pay for a private investigator who filmed a hidden-camera video showing one of Salinas’ political rivals with a topless dancer. You can’t make this stuff up.

  2. BannedbytheTaliban says:

    And what is the good mayor’s political affliation you may ask…survey says: DEMOCRAT. Not listed once in either article. What media bias?

  3. mr_bill says:

    I had to dig deep to find Mr. Salinas’ party affiliation. Strangely, it wasn’t noted in the articles describing the charges against him. It was noted in an article discussing his defense. His attorney is claiming that Salinas is the victim of political prosecutions because he is a democrat and the Gov. and Dona Ana County D.A. are Republicans. I’m just waiting to hear that the Department of [Social] Justice is investigating the Gov. and the D.A.

    http://www.kfoxtv.com/news/news/salinas-defense-attorney-says-arrests-are-politica/nMTS6/

  4. River0 says:

    If the scammers were Republicans, this is how the article would read:

    ” New Mexico takes over Conservative bastion Sunland Park: Audit finds misappropriation of city money, ‘tea parties’, more

    ” SUNLAND PARK — The state of New Mexico took over fiscal oversight of affluent and conservative Sunland Park on Monday after a state audit found widespread fraud, political shenanigans, criminal violations, and misappropriation of city funds. Women and minorities were harmed most. The state GOP denies the charges, but sources say Republicans and Tea Partiers were enriched. Money was taken from the poorest neighborhoods and used to pay for prostitutes in Mexico and improperly forgiving some GOP cronies utility bills. “

  5. canary says:

    Dear friends,

    There are less than 7 months until election day when the people will decide who will be the next President of the United States. The person elected will be the president of all Americans, not just the Democrats or the Republicans. It’s time that we all need to come together, Democrats and Republicans alike, in a bi-partisan effort for America:

    If you will support Mitt Romney, please drive with your headlights ON during the day.

    If you support Barack Obama, please drive with your headlights OFF at night.

    Together, we can make it happen. Thank you!

    get it? on off

  6. Helena says:

    Well done mr. bill – I looked and looked and couldn’t find it. But what I did find was that Salinas also invoked his “drug cartel” connections to help him enforce his threats and that there’s an additional border crossing planned to be constructed – Sunland Park is essentially a suburb of El Paso, with its very busy border crossing – that Salinas and apparently his local race track connections and “drug cartel” connections, want a piece of that.

    New Mexico: local political scandal crosses into Texas and Mexico
    http://www.speroforum.com/a/EVKPDBXXEK18/71127-New-Mexico-local-political-scandal-crosses-into-Texas-and-Mexico

  7. Gila Monster says:

    This just gets better and better.
    From the Las Cruces NM Sun-News.

    Former Sunland Park public works director indicted on fraud charges
    By Brian Fraga/bfraga@lcsun-news.comlcsun-news.com
    Posted: 05/18/2012 05:09:23 PM MDT

    Sunland Park’s former public works director has been indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges.

    Jesus Dario Hernandez, 55, who is still at-large and believed to be in Mexico, was indicted Thursday on charges of fraud, making or permitting false public voucher, violation of ethical principles of public service, and conspiracy.

    The charges stem from Hernandez’ alleged role in a Mexico border conference last November where he and three former city employees are said to have allowed an El Paso businessman to pay for their lodging, meals, transportation, alcohol and visits to strip clubs.

    Prosecutors allege the expenses – totaling about $10,240 – were then fraudulently billed to Sunland Park for reimbursement.

    Hernandez was indicted earlier this year on extortion, tampering with evidence and conspiracy charges stemming from an alleged plot to blackmail a Sunland Park mayoral candidate with a video of him with a topless dancer.

    http://tinyurl.com/788selw

    One wonders if this Hernandez is somehow related to the Mayoral candidate Hernandez in the Fox News story above.

  8. JohnMG says:

    …..”I told her we live in Texas,” said 56-year-old Arturo Estrada, who came to the United States from Mexico when he was 18 and worked as a carpenter in Chicago to support his family until he retired. “She said no problem,” and then registered Arturo and his wife, Juana Estrada, for the upcoming election…

    That the elected officials would be this crooked doesn’t surprise me. It is almost to the point that I expect such behavior from people who handle other peoples’ money, and who are charged with the public trust. What upsets me more is that people like the Estradas in the quote above are willing accomplices to the crime.

    Here’s a guy who worked and lived in Chicago as a carpenter until retirement. He KNOWS what is right and wrong, yet he goes along with the fraudulent dealings. Why? What’s in it for him? In my view he is just as guilty as the obvious perps, and should be charged as a co-conspirator. Why didn’t he blow the whistle on these criminals?

    Until the people who vote insist on maintaining the integrity of our democratic process, this behavior will only get worse. This country is in the toilet and headed for the sewer.


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