Advantage Asphalt case heads to trial

A criminal case that rocked the Santa Fe, New Mexico, political scene when it first surfaced more than four years ago is finally coming to a head, reports the Albuquerque Journal.

A trial is scheduled to start next week on bribery and fraud charges against the owners of Advantage Asphalt and Seal Coating, whose political connections spread to numerous elected officials and various governmental jurisdictions.

Joe Anthony and Marlene Montoya are accused of theft of more than $1 million from the county, in part by bribing a county government official who played a key role in doling out paving and roadwork contracts.

Advantage also is accused of misrepresenting work on county roads, submitting false or inaccurate invoices and fraudulently collecting county payments in connection with $7 million in county contracts.

James Lujan, who was fired from his job as county public works director soon after news of the Advantage Asphalt investigation broke in May 2010, has already admitted in court testimony that he accepted three trips to Las Vegas, NM, and possibly as much as $20,000 in cash from Joe Anthony Montoya, probably in 2008 and 2009.

Despite reams of documents filed in the case and numerous pre-trial hearings, lawyers in the case have little to say as a December 4 trial date approaches.

Defense attorney Sam Bregman did say the Montoyas are eager to prove themselves innocent of charges that have caused them both personal and business hardship.

“We’re looking forward to getting our case before a jury,” said Bregman.

District Attorney Angela “Spence” Pacheco, whose office presented the evidence to a special grand jury that resulted in the Advantage Asphalt indictments in early 2012, had no comment about the pending trial, expected to last three weeks.

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