APS board Vice President Analee Maestas spoke out Friday about the state investigation into a suspicious receipt from her charter school, saying she did nothing wrong.
Maestas gave a statement to reporters after a special board meeting on budgets and denied that she submitted a doctored receipt for $342.40 to the New Mexico Public Education Department in an attempt to get reimbursement for cleaning that took place at her home, not La Promesa Charter School, where she is executive director.
“There was work done at my house, but it was paid for personally,” she said after the meeting. “There was carpet cleaning at the school and that was paid for with school funds. There is no question about that.”
Maestas said she has always cooperated with PED and will provide any documentation requested about the cleaning.
She then left without taking any questions.
Paul Aguilar, PED deputy secretary for finance & operations, said the department had flagged the receipt for work from Clean Carpet Care because it appears to have been altered by someone writing the name and address of a casita behind La Promesa Charter School’s Early Learning Center over the name of Maestas and what the PED says appears to be her home address.
On Wednesday, he sent a letter outlining the concerns to internal auditors Axiom Certified Public Accountants and asked them to contact the Office of the State Auditor.
The Journal obtained a copy of the receipt submitted to PED, which claims Clean Carpet Care cleaned 16 ducts and carpets in five areas July 31.
Clean Carpet Care owner Joseph DiBruno provided the Journal with a very different receipt that he said is the original.
It clearly has Maestas’ name and home address written in the “customer information” box and does not mention carpet cleaning work.
DiBruno told the Journal that he recalls cleaning ducts at Maestas’ home but could find no documentation of having worked at La Promesa.
Use of public money for personal expenses and falsification of school records are misdemeanors under state law.
In addition to all civil and criminal penalties, a person found in violation “shall” forfeit “office or employment.”
On Friday, Maestas criticized the Journal for not providing her with a copy of the questionable invoice and letter to Axiom when approached by a reporter Wednesday night to set up an interview time for Thursday.
Maestas, who is paid $82,716 as executive director of La Promesa, agreed to a 2 p.m. interview with the Journal on Thursday but did not pick up a call at that time or three subsequent calls. Her voice mail box was full.
The Journal called her again Friday afternoon to seek additional comment but Maestas did not answer. The voice mail box was still full.