SANTA FE, N.M. (CN) – Former New Mexico state Senator Phil Griego will spend 18 months behind bars and pay more than $47,000 in fines for bribery, fraud, and misuse of his former position to earn commission in the sale of a state-owned building.
Griego was a Democratic state senator for 18 years before he resigned in 2015 during an ethics investigation.
Authorities charged Griego with nine criminal counts in February 2016, including fraud, perjury, tampering with public records, ethics violations, solicitation of bribery, and failure to disclose financial information on the use of his legislative position to earn a $50,000 commission on the 2014 sale of a state-owned building.
According to the criminal complaint, Griego never disclosed the commission, nor did he pay his own broker the 20 percent commission owed.
He was accused of engineering legislation to allow the sale of the building to a client by asking another representative to carry the bill for him. Griego never voted on the bill, stepping out of the chamber while the votes were cast.
“Griego’s abrupt departure from the vote is an early indicator to this agent that Griego knew he had a conflicting interest in the vote while he was functioning as a legislator, but hoped not voting on the measure would alleviate this conflict,” the complaint against the former senator stated.
Griego was convicted in 2017 on five of the public corruption counts, including four felony charges. He faced a maximum 18 years in prison.
But during the sentencing, Second Judicial District Judge Brett Loveless said he does not believe Griego is a bad person, adding that he decided to impose the prison sentence after much reflection.
“It’s a sad day because you were given such a great responsibility and trust,” Loveless said, as quoted by the Albuquerque Journal.
Loveless sentenced Griego to 12 years, but suspended all but 18 months of the jail time. The former senator was granted three weeks before he has to report to prison.
Griego also received five years of supervised probation after release and must perform 1,000 hours of community service.