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State official helped clean up racing

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William “Bill” Meincke, who was head of the Albuquerque FBI office and later helped clean up horse racing as executive secretary of the New Mexico Racing Commission, died in Albuquerque on Dec. 29. He was 87.

Meincke was special agent in charge of the New Mexico FBI office in 1974 and 1975 before he was transferred to the Minneapolis division. He returned to Albuquerque in 1977 to “retire” — which consisted of establishing a consulting business, directing a training academy and running the racing commission.

While he was head of the FBI office here, he helped organize the investigation into the killing of two FBI agents in South Dakota in 1975, according to news reports.

He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1925 and served in World War II as a nose gunner on a B-24 in the 461st Bomb Group, flying 56 missions over Germany. He graduated from Colgate University and got a master’s of business administration from New York University.

Meincke’s FBI career began in 1951. He worked in at least half a dozen cities before he was assigned to Albuquerque.

“He was very, very good at leading investigations,” said his daughter, Linda Meincke. “He was very good at talking to people. He could get more information out of people than you could imagine.”

During his tenure as head of the New Mexico FBI office, his home was burglarized, prompting headlines in both the Journal and the Albuquerque Tribune. The Tribune called it “the wrong house to burglarize” and the Journal wrote “everyone has bad days — including burglars.” The burglars were tracked down and arrested in short order.

His last bureau assignment was as assistant director of the FBI and director of the bureau’s educational facility in Quantico, Va.

“That is a big deal,” said Harris Hartz, 10th Circuit Court of Appeals judge, who served as chairman of the racing commission when Meincke was executive secretary. “That’s the premiere law enforcement training place in the world.”

He returned to Albuquerque at age 52, where he began a private security and investigations firm and then became the first general manager of the Department of Energy’s Central Training Academy at Kirtland Air Force Base.

In 1987, Hartz tapped Meincke to be executive secretary of the New Mexico Racing Commission when then-Gov. Garrey Carruthers called for stricter enforcement of racing rules and regulations. During his tenure, he doubled the number of investigators and, with the commission, upgraded testing procedures to catch horsemen suspected of administering illegal drugs to horses. More than 50 horsemen were suspended for drugging horses, according to news reports at the time.

“I think he’s largely responsible for the success we had, because things really changed,” Hartz said.

In 1988, he left to direct pari-mutuel racing in Texas, but he resigned after about a year to return to New Mexico.

He was an avid outdoorsman and rode his horse on a daily basis until he was 81 years old, his daughter said.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth; daughters Carol and Linda Meincke and their husbands; and two grandsons.
— This article appeared on page C4 of the Albuquerque Journal

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