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‘Smiley’ Gallegos pleads no contest in corruption case

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported that Gallegos had pleaded guilty

One of the longest-running corruption cases in New Mexico history marked a new phase Thursday when Vincent “Smiley” Gallegos, the former head of the Region 3 Housing Authority, pleaded no contest to four misdemeanors counts.

He had been charged with felony counts of fraud, embezzlement and conspiracy in 2009 in connection with mismanagement of bond funds for housing projects.

Gallegos entered into the plea agreement before 2nd Judicial District Judge Ross Sanchez.

Assistant Attorney General Chris Lackmann has been trying to push the case to trial but a variety of setbacks in the four-defendant case have stalled it repeatedly.

Gallegos is receiving a conditional discharge and one-year probation.

Gallegos’ attorney Paul Kennedy noted that Gallegos is a defendant in two civil lawsuits seeking to recover money for the state.

The plea is to attempting to commit a felony — paying or receiving public money for services not rendered, in February and July 2006 and October and November 2005.

Lackmann said those counts center on double-billing for going to the same meeting.



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