SANTA FE – A federal judge has sentenced Larry Mendoza, a former employee of the state Taxation and Revenue Department, to 46 months in prison for his conviction on extortion charges.
Mendoza will be on supervised release for three years after completing his prison sentence. U.S. District Judge Martha Vazquez also ordered Mendoza to pay $43,380 in restitution.
Mendoza, 45, of Santa Fe, pled guilty on Nov. 17 to a three-count felony information charging him with Hobbs Act extortion. He was accused of extorting $2,500 from a business owner in return for reducing the business owner’s tax liability.
According to court records, Mendoza started working at Taxation and Revenue in 2007 and in 2013 he became a revenue agent with responsibilities that included collecting outstanding taxes owed by business owners. In February 2017, Mendoza approached a business owner with a proposal that the owner pay him $500 a month in exchange for Mendoza lowering the owner’s tax obligation.
The owner gave Mendoza $500 and another $500 the next month. In May 2017, Mendoza logged onto his work computer and reduced the business owner’s tax liability by $8,000. Mendoza also solicited and received another $1,500 from the same owner.
In entering his guilty plea, Mendoza admitted that he engaged in a similar pattern of criminal conduct with other business owners and that his conduct was responsible for losses to the state in excess of $40,000.
He was fired from Taxation and Revenue last year.