Top Democrat Indicted for Huge Racketeering & Money Laundering Scam
Democratic lawmaker's home and business raided by law enforcement agents
A top state Democrat lawmaker has been indicted over a major money laundering, embezzlement, and racketeering scam, according to reports.
A search warrant affidavit was prepared by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and made public Wednesday.
The warrant details a high-profile investigation into “the alleged nefarious receipt of millions of dollars of public funds over a decade-long period by individuals, including at least one high-ranking elected official.”
The high-ranking Democrat official named in that affidavit is Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, the second most powerful member of the NM House of Representatives.
Investigators from the Attorney General’s Office served search warrants on Stapleton’s home and her employer, the Albuquerque Public Schools.
On Wednesday, law enforcement agents were seen raiding her home and business as part of a sweeping investigation into Stapleton’s financial kickback scheme with a district vendor that has been paid more than $5 million in taxpayer cash over more than a decade.
The AG’s Office is conducting a “criminal investigation of racketeering, money laundering, receiving illegal kickback, and violations of the Governmental Conduct Act,” the search warrant affidavit says.
News of the investigation sent shock waves through New Mexico on Wednesday, catching lawmakers and state leaders by surprise.
Stapleton, a Democrat, is the House majority leader and a longtime employee of APS, where she is coordinator and director of Career and Technical Education.
The school district placed her on leave Wednesday pending the AG’s investigation.
Accoridng to the local news outlet KOB4, newly-appointed Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Scott Elder submitted a letter to the New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas in April referencing "Suspected Violations of Governmental Conduct Act and Procurement Code."
Investigators are looking into Rep. Williams Stapleton's connections to Robotics Management Learning Systems LCC, a D.C. company that has done business with APS since 2006.
According to the warrant, every invoice issued by Robotics to APS was for an even dollar amount, no cents, and in unchanging amounts over the years.
Most were reportedly for $40,000. In all, APS paid Robotics more than $5.3 million.
Rep. Williams Stapleton is also directly involved with four companies that received payments from Robotics: The Charlie Morrisey Center for Creative Assitance Inc., the Ujima Foundation, S. Williams and Associates, and local restaurant A Taste of The Caribbean.
Evidence suggests that she was the eventual recipient of 60% of the APS money — $954,386.
Investigators are looking into additional payments that were redirected into her personal bank accounts.
Rep. Williams Stapleton, a Democrat from Albuquerque, represents District 19 and was elected as Majority Floor Leader in 2017.
She has served as a representative since 1995.
Rep. Williams Stapleton is also an employee of the school district – she is coordinator and director of Career and Technical Education at APS.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued the following statement following the allegations:
“I am deeply, deeply troubled by the reports this morning about a law enforcement investigation into Rep. Stapleton.
"People are innocent until proven otherwise, and I know investigators will follow the facts wherever they lead.
"I await more information like all New Mexicans.
"But I will say that public confidence in government is seriously damaged by even the appearance of impropriety, or illegal activity, which is why public officials must always hold themselves to the highest possible standard of behavior.
"New Mexicans expect and deserve elected officials who, regardless of party, will put the people before themselves.
"Anything less violates a sacred public trust and must be dealt with accordingly.”