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Duran faces new felony charge

Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office tacked another criminal charge onto its case against Secretary of State Dianna Duran on Friday, alleging the person Duran listed as her campaign treasurer during her 2010 election bid – former state Sen. Don Kidd – did not know his name was being used and had no role in verifying Duran’s campaign reports.

In addition, the AG’s Office filed notice that it intends to seek an enhancement to any possible sentence handed down to Duran under a high-profile but untested 2012 public corruption bill.

The legal salvos capped off a week in which Duran’s attorney filed a motion to have the Attorney General’s Office disqualified from prosecuting Duran’s case and Balderas moved to cut formal ties between the two offices, pending the case’s outcome.

Duran was already facing charges of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and other crimes for allegedly using campaign contributions to cover personal spending at casinos. She pleaded not guilty to the charges last month but has faced mounting pressure to resign.

DURAN: Now faces 65 criminal counts (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

DURAN: Now faces 65 criminal counts (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

In the new criminal complaint filed Friday in District Court in Santa Fe, a special agent in the Attorney General’s Office said Kidd told an investigator he was unaware he was listed as treasurer – on 10 reports – for Duran’s 2010 secretary of state campaign.

Kidd, a Carlsbad banker who previously served in the state Senate with Duran, also told the AG’s Office investigator the address and phone number listed on Duran’s campaign reports did not belong to him and he had no involvement in Duran’s campaign other than making a financial contribution, according to the criminal complaint.

Asked why Duran would list him as her campaign treasurer, Kidd allegedly told the investigator, “I just don’t know – that’s amazing.”

The new charge, a fourth-degree felony identity theft charge, means there are now 65 total violations alleged by the Attorney General’s Office. Although the amounts withdrawn at eight casinos run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the counts against her revolve around 19 transactions totaling about $13,000.

In addition to the new charge, the Attorney General’s Office also filed a notice Friday that it intends to introduce evidence showing Duran misrepresented her finances in tax returns for four straight years, starting in 2010. More than 100 transactions that appear in Duran’s campaign accounts – including ATM withdrawals and casino transactions – were not listed as expenditures in her campaign filings, the AG’s office also alleged.

Duran’s attorney, Erlinda Johnson, said late Friday that she had not yet reviewed the AG’s Office’s latest filings.

Before Friday’s court filings, a contract attorney for the Secretary of State’s Office had responded to Balderas’ decision to formally sever ties between the two offices by telling the attorney general his duty to provide legal advice and representation to the secretary of state is not optional.

“If a conflict exists, your office must continue to fulfill its non-discretionary duty to enforce the New Mexico Election Code, and you have no choice but to refer the matter of the prosecution of Dianna Duran to a district attorney,” Rob Doughty, the secretary of state’s outside counsel, told Balderas in a Thursday letter.

Balderas told Duran earlier this week the Attorney General’s Office would not act as the Secretary of State’s Office’s legal counsel, at least while the criminal case against Duran is pending. He also said he would return 31 case referrals from the secretary of state – most dealing with candidates filing delinquent campaign reports – back to Duran’s office for handling.

The secretary of state’s chief of staff, Ken Ortiz, said Friday that the office was still figuring out how to handle those 31 cases.

Duran, a Republican who was re-elected last year, is seeking to have the Attorney General’s Office removed from her case, with her attorney arguing in a motion filed this week that Balderas, a Democrat, is politically motivated and has an acrimonious relationship with Duran.

In response, the Attorney General’s Office asked District Judge Glenn Ellington to deny the motion, arguing in a separate filing that state law prohibits “prosecutor shopping.”

“Despite her best attempts to conjure up a conflict, Duran cannot show this is the rare case warranting prosecutorial disqualification,” Assistant Attorney General Clara Moran wrote in the response.

The next court hearing in the Duran case is set for Thursday in Santa Fe. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled to begin Oct. 30.