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Manny Aragon released from federal prison

Aragon

ARAGON: Was convicted in kickback scheme

SANTA FE – Former New Mexico Senate leader Manny Aragon was released from a federal prison in Colorado on Thursday after serving four-and-half years for his part in an Albuquerque courthouse kickback scheme.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons wouldn’t say where Aragon was headed but confirmed he has served enough of his 67-month sentence to be eligible for release to a halfway house.

Aragon, 66, had been in the minimum-security prison at the Florence Federal Correctional Complex since June 2009.

“He left Florence today,” Chris Burke, a spokesman with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C., said Thursday.

Burke said he couldn’t disclose Aragon’s destination nor confirm whether he was headed to a halfway house.

Aragon, an Albuquerque Democrat who was once one of the state’s most powerful politicians, pleaded guilty in October 2008 to one count of conspiracy and two counts of mail fraud in a Metropolitan Courthouse construction scandal that siphoned off more than $4 million.

Aragon had secured state money for various aspects of the courthouse project. He admitted stealing more than $600,000, which he got from an engineer who helped arrange a system of fraudulent overbillings on the courthouse’s audio-visual system.

Aragon served in the Senate from 1975 to 2004, when he left to become president of New Mexico Highlands University, a job he held for two years.

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