Four years and counting.
Still no trial for defendants in a 2009 criminal case alleging fraud, embezzlement and conspiracy involving money from bonds issued by the now defunct Region III Housing Authority.
The 2009 corruption case against former state Rep. Vincent “Smiley” Gallegos, the authority’s director, Dennis Kennedy, the authority’s accountant, and Robert Strumor, its bond counsel, has been beset by numerous motions and medical-related delays for both the court and defendants. Add to that a plethora of changes in judges and attorneys. Meanwhile, the defendants have been free on supervised release for four years.
Charges stem from allegations that the authority misspent money intended to buy and renovate homes for low- and moderate-income families on items like a private club membership and booze.
The case was set to go to trial next month, but Kennedy’s attorney, Sam Bregman, asked for another postponement because of his client’s illness. The court set a status conference for Oct. 21, the day the trial would have started.
Prosecutors from the state Attorney General’s Office want to see some resolution to the languishing case and have offered the three the option of pleading to misdemeanor charges. As of late last week the defendants had not responded to the plea offers.
The justice system needs to find a way to move this case forward. Taxpayers, who footed the bill for the alleged misspending, deserve to have answers.
This seems to be just another example of the classic New Mexico scandal. If you let it percolate long enough, sooner or later it will just evaporate.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.