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State Police Arrest Sunland Contractor

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LAS CRUCES — State Police have arrested another Sunland Park contractor in the on-going investigation into government corruption.

Annette Morales, the 49-year-old head of Medius Inc., which bills itself as a community planning services consulting firm, was being held Thursday evening at the Doña Ana County Detention Center on a charge of embezzlement over $20,000 or fraud over $20,000 in lieu of a $100,000 secured bond.

The criminal charge stems from alleged overbilling on a $1 million contract Morales signed in March 2011 when Martin Resendiz was still mayor of the border town. According to the contract, for which Morales was paid $457,777 before it was canceled in early September 2011, Medius was to provide a “strategic framework” for city growth related to plans to open an international crossing on the Mexican border.

According to a criminal complaint, Morales allegedly defrauded the city of between $262,028 and $271,775 for services that were not documented or were outside the scope of the contract.

According to the criminal complaint, controversial city attorney Frank Coppler tipped State Police off to irregularities in the Medius payments. A different city contractor who reviewed the Medius work concluded the work was worth about $87,000, Coppler told police.

After getting sued by Morales for breach of contract early this year, Sunland Park offered her a settlement of $87,000 before Coppler discovered the city had already paid $455,777.
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal

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