SANTA FE – Attorney General Hector Balderas on Monday filed a criminal complaint against former state Sen. Phil Griego alleging that he used his position as a legislator to make money in a real estate deal, never disclosed it and defrauded a couple of business associates.
Griego was charged in a complaint filed in state District Court in Santa Fe with nine crimes, including bribery, fraud, perjury, tampering with public records, and violating ethical principles of public service and financial disclosure requirements.
Griego, a Democrat from San Miguel County, resigned abruptly during the legislative session in March 2015 rather than face possible disciplinary action over the 2014 real estate deal involving the sale of a historic state-owned building to a private buyer.
The sale had to be approved by the Legislature. Griego didn’t disclose any interest in the property sale when lawmakers were voting on it, but later received a $50,000 broker’s fee for monitoring the sale proceedings.
The AG began a criminal investigation about a month after Griego resigned.
A statement from James Hallinan, a spokesman for Balderas, said the complaint alleges Griego “used his role as a legislator to receive personal compensation, which he then failed to disclose in filings required of legislators.”
Griego did not immediately respond to a telephone message left by the Journal .
His lawyer, Diego Zamora, said he had not yet seen the complaint and couldn’t provide a comment.
Griego has previously defended his involvement in the deal, saying he didn’t feel there were any ethical problems with his actions.
According to the complaint, Griego agreed in September 2013 to help Galisteo Street Inc. buy the historic office building it was leasing from the state. The building, near the Capitol, is across from a high-end hotel owned by GSI.
Griego, as GSI’s agent, shepherded the sale through the legislative process and subsequent review by the Capitol Buildings Planning Commission, but did not tell anyone associated with the state of his interest in the sale, the AG said.
The complaint says Griego “stood silent … as inaccurate and incomplete information regarding the lease and sale were discussed on the Senate floor.”
Lawmakers were told in a Senate committee and in floor debate that the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department wanted to sell the building because it was costing more to maintain than the lease was worth.
They were never told that GSI was responsible for maintenance costs under its lease, nor that GSI was already lined up as a buyer, the complaint said.
Griego stepped outside the chamber when the Senate vote was taken, according to the AG.
“Griego’s abrupt departure from the vote is an early indicator to this agent that Griego knew he had a conflicting interest in the vote while he was functioning as a legislator, but hoped not voting on the measure would alleviate that conflict,” wrote Mark Pinto, special agent with the Office of the Attorney General.
Griego was working as an associate broker and therefore was required to affiliate with a qualifying broker to engage in real estate brokerage business.
But the criminal complaint says he hid the transaction from his qualifying broker, John J. Mahoney – depriving Mahoney of an agreed-on 20 percent share of his commission. He then misrepresented the transaction to the qualifying broker he subsequently sought out, Phillip J. Garcia, and gave him less than was agreed to – 5 percent instead of 20 percent – the complaint said.
Griego did not report the commission he received in June 2014 on his 2015 financial statement, which covered the year 2014, according to the complaint. Nor did he report it in September 2014, when he amended a previously filed report with other new information.
Griego, who represented Senate District 39 from 1997 until he resigned in 2015, spent $6,500 from his campaign funds last year after his resignation.
He told the Secretary of State in January the spending actually qualified him as a candidate for his old Senate seat and was therefore allowable. Although he had previously said it was unlikely he would run again, he said in January that he was still mulling over his options.