Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Potential witnesses in the racketeering and money laundering trial of former state House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton include a roster of top Albuquerque Public Schools officials, including Superintendant Scott Elder.
Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office submitted a list of 58 potential witnesses in the case that lists more than a dozen other APS faculty and staff members. The trial is scheduled for December 2022 in 2nd Judicial District Court.
Stapleton has been indicted on 26 state felony and two misdemeanor counts for her alleged role in routing money meant for vocational education at APS to businesses and charities in which she had an interest.
The charges include one count of racketeering, five counts of money laundering and separate counts of soliciting or receiving kickbacks and unlawful interest in a public contract.
Stapleton has said through her attorney that she is innocent of any criminal charges and intends to clear her name.
Elder is expected to testify to the decision to report Stapleton’s allegedly unlawful conduct, according the state’s witness list. Elder sent a letter April 19 to the Attorney General’s Office outlining suspected irregularities.
APS Chief Financial Officer Tami Coleman is expected to testify to “her unique role in discovering (Stapleton’s) allegedly fraudulent involvement with” Robotics Management Learning System LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based firm at the center of the allegations, according to the witness list.
The firm had a contract overseen by Stapleton to provide training to APS vocational students for more than 15 years at a cost of more than $5 million.
Stapleton allegedly diverted about $950,000 from the contract to personal and business accounts that included her personal consulting firm and her family’s restaurant, according to court records.
As currently scheduled, the high-profile case would go to trial just a month after the 2022 general election, in which New Mexicans will vote on statewide officeholders and determine the fate of a proposal to take more money out of the state’s largest permanent fund for early childhood programs.
The case could also prompt legislative scrutiny, as the influential Legislative Finance Committee is working on a study of Albuquerque Public Schools’ business and procurement practices in light of the allegations of money laundering and fraud.