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Auditor: Public funds stolen

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SANTA FE – The state auditor says an elected official used public money for casinos, gas stations, hotels and other personal items.

State Auditor Hector Balderas told KOAT-TV that former Tierra Amarilla Land Grant Board President Dennis Wells, who has since died, stole money that was supposed to go toward the land, but spent nearly all of it for his own personal use.

Balderas said Wells used taxpayers’ money on items like a car, carpet and dental work.

He said that restitution could come from his estate and that he believes other people may be involved.

Balderas is now asking for an FBI criminal investigation. He is also asking for the state Legislature’s Land Grant Committee to monitor local land grant boards more closely.

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