A bench warrant was issued for Sandoval County Commissioner Darryl Madalena this week after he failed to show up to court for a citation of driving with a suspended license – a license that was suspended about two-and-a-half years ago.
And county records show that Madalena has been driving all over the state on county business in recent months, having claimed more than $2,600 in mileage expenses.
In an interview this week, Madalena said he thought he had paid the necessary fine and fee and taken care of the license issue.
But court records show Madalena was cited by State Police on Jan. 25 on U.S. 550 near San Ysidro. The citation states that Madalena was in his blue Ford Fusion going 80 mph in a 70 mph zone when he was pulled over. It noted that his license had been suspended on Aug. 9, 2009.
“He currently doesn’t have a valid license,” said S.U. Mahesh, spokesman for the state Tax and Revenue Department, which includes the Motor Vehicle Division.
Mahesh said Madalena’s license was suspended for not paying a $60 speeding fine, and he hadn’t paid a $25 fee to reinstate it.
If the person issued the fine doesn’t pay, he said, it automatically triggers a notice that his or her license will be suspended within 30 days.
“He should have received a letter,” Mahesh said, adding that the fine and the reinstatement fee can be paid at any MVD office.
Reached by phone on Tuesday, Madalena told the Journal he believed he had paid and taken care of the matter.
“That should be taken care of already,” Madalena said. “I mean, I paid it.”
When the Journal asked about the citation, Madalena said he was attending a relative’s funeral services and would need a couple of days to check the details.
Madalena was a no-show on Monday at the arraignment before Magistrate Judge Richard Zanotti for his January citation, prompting the court to issue the bench warrant.
Madalena, who lives in Jemez Pueblo, was elected in 2008 to represent county commission District 5, which covers most of the county west and north of Rio Rancho. He recently filed as a candidate seeking re-election.
County records from recent months indicate he has been driving all over the state on county business.
Between May and October 2011, Madalena claimed $1,684 in mileage expenses for traveling to destinations including Cuba, Isleta, Tesuque Pueblo, Santa Fe, Bernalillo and Albuquerque. Other mileage expenses include $117 for a trip to Roswell in June to attend a New Mexico Association of Counties conference and $926 for travel between Jan. 2 and Jan. 27 for trips including to Santa Fe, Bernalillo and Las Cruces.
Sandoval County’s personnel policy provides for reimbursing employees and elected officials 55 cents per mile for driving their own vehicles on county business.
The county provides take-home vehicles to about 30 employees, including department directors and the treasurer, assessor and clerk, who are elected officials.
The county doesn’t issue vehicles to the commissioners and, unlike the other employees and elected officials, they are not subject to a requirement to show proof of a valid driver’s license, county spokesman Sidney Hill said in an email.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal