A former state corrections official prepared fake loan documents in an attempt to cover up $237,000 in bribes from the Santa Fe company she had awarded $4 million in prison roofing contracts, prosecutors said Thursday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara Neda outlined the attempted cover-up during a federal court hearing during which former Corrections Department facilities manager Laurie Chapman, 50, pleaded guilty to 30 felony counts of soliciting and taking bribes.
According to Neda, in September 2010 Chapman learned of the FBI investigation and traveled to La Tuna Federal Prison south of Las Cruces to meet with Santa Fe roofing contractor Anthony Moya, who was serving a prison sentence in an unrelated case. The conversation was secretly taped by the FBI.
Chapman wanted Moya to tell federal investigators that the bribe payments were part of a loan to a company, Zia Construction Inc. that she had established under her maiden name of Hoag.
Moya wouldn’t go along with the idea.
She then prepared tax returns to show business activity by the shell company and provided FBI agents with a promissory note for the loan, but it had only her signature on the document.
Jacquelyn Robins, Chapman’s attorney, told the court that Chapman was pleading guilty to the substance of the indictment, although they may dispute some specific facts.
According to the indictment:
In March 2007, Chapman set up a “price agreement” procedure that permitted her to select a roofing company to perform work on Corrections Department buildings without going out to a competitive bid.
Based on the “price agreement” procedure, it was up to Chapman to decide what company did the work.
From February 2007 through April 2009, Omni Development Corp., a Santa Fe roofing company, did $4 million worth of work on department buildings.
During that same period Chapman was receiving bribes in the form of cash, online transfers, checks and credit card payments directly from Omni Development or Moya, the company’s owner.
Some of the bribes included checks from Moya to Zia Construction, although the indictment charges that Zia never did any work for Moya or Omni.
During part of the time the bribes were being paid, Moya was in federal prison after being convicted of embezzling money from a pueblo-owned gasoline station and mini-market. Moya was not charged in the bribery case.
Chapman faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each of the 30 offenses and will be required to forfeit $237,080 — the proceeds of her criminal conduct — to the federal government.