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Former Senator Griego begins prison sentence

Former state Sen. Phil Griego (Source: Corrections Department

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Former state Sen. Phil Griego – a Democrat convicted of corruption charges last fall – is now behind bars.

He reported to prison Thursday morning and began serving his 18-month sentence at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas, a spokesman for the Corrections Department said.

Griego was convicted in November of fraud, bribery and other charges centering on his role in the 2014 sale of a historic state-owned building near the Capitol. It took legislative approval to authorize the sale.

Prosecutors for the state Attorney General’s Office said Griego, a state senator at the time, concealed his involvement in the deal and ultimately pocketed a $50,000 commission as a real estate agent for the buyer.

Earlier this week, state District Judge Brett Loveless denied Griego’s motion to remain free pending an appeal.

The Los Lunas prison has special units for elderly inmates and those in poor health.

Griego, 69, could end up serving only nine months in prison under day-for-day “good time” incentives, his attorney said.

As part of his sentence, Griego was also ordered to complete five years of supervised probation after his release from prison and to perform 1,000 hours of community service.

Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office prosecuted the case against Griego, and had initially asked the judge to impose a 10-year prison sentence. Griego’s attorney had requested probation and no prison time.

Griego represented a sprawling Senate district for 18-plus years before resigning in 2015 under the cloud of an internal ethics investigation. Before reporting to prison, he lived on a family ranch in rural San Miguel County.

The ethics inquiry came after the Santa Fe Reporter broke the story about Griego’s involvement in the sale.

Griego had until today to turn himself in.