More than four years after the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico, began investigating allegations that Advantage Asphalt and Seal Coating defrauded Santa Fe County of about $1 million, a judge has again scheduled a criminal trial.
The sheriff’s office started investigating in 2010, and in 2012, the firm and its principals – Joseph Anthony Montoya and Marlene Montoya – were indicted on charges of fraud, bribery of a public officer or employee, conspiracy, and making or permitting false public vouchers.
The Montoyas are accused of falsifying paperwork, bribing at least one county employee, misrepresenting work they did for the county and in some cases using the county’s own manpower and resources to do work the county paid them to complete. Former Public Works director James Lujan was fired and indicted in connection with the case, and he since has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from the Montoyas and agreed to testify at the trial.
The case was set to go to trial in September 2013, but was delayed for nearly a year after the Montoyas appealed a district judge’s denial of their motion for dismissal in which they argued that mishandling of $110,000 seized from a safe during a 2010 raid on their home amounted pre-adjudication punishment, raising the issue of double jeopardy. Their appeal was denied in May.
The court has set aside 12 days in December to hear the case, District Attorney Angela “Spence” Pacheco said.