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Former lawmaker headed to trial

Former New Mexico state Sen. Phil Griego, heading toward trial on public corruption charges, looks at his attorney Tom Clark in 2nd Judicial District Judge Brett Loveless’ courtroom Tuesday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

The public corruption case against former state Sen. Phil Griego is headed to trial, and opposing attorneys spent one of the final pretrial hearings launching last-minute attempts to suppress evidence and testimony.

At the Tuesday afternoon hearing in Albuquerque, Griego’s attorney also sought dismissal of four of the seven charges Griego faces stemming from an allegation that the San Jose Democrat used his former legislative position to pocket a $50,000 broker’s fee in the 2014 sale of a historic state-owned building in Santa Fe.

Earlier this year, a grand jury indicted him on additional charges of perjury, fraud and embezzlement for allegedly pocketing money from his campaign account and lying about it on required reports.

He has pleaded not guilty to those charges and rejected plea offers from the state Attorney General’s Office.

Prosecutors and Griego’s attorney, Tom Clark, said Tuesday before state District Judge Brett Loveless that they expect to be able to wrap up the trial, which will be held in Santa Fe, in two weeks.

It is scheduled to start Oct. 30, and the first day will be spent whittling down the 200-person jury pool, a larger-than-average pool size.

Loveless spent the hearing Tuesday listening to prosecutors and Clark argue over what evidence and testimony should be excluded from trial, opting to take most of the issues under consideration.

Clark also attempted to get the misdemeanor charges of violation of ethical principles of public service and the felony fraud and bribery charges dismissed, citing a lack of evidence and violation of time limits for the crimes.

Loveless declined to dismiss the charges but told prosecutors that Clark’s concerns about the time limits were valid.