Tuesday, December 19, 2006
U.S. Attorney Plans to Resign
By Mike Gallagher
Copyright © 2006 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Investigative Reporter
U.S. Attorney David Iglesias will resign in the next few months more than two years before his appointment expires, an office spokesman confirmed Monday night.
Iglesias, appointed by President Bush in 2001, would normally have served as the state's chief federal lawman until the end of Bush's term in 2008.
U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Norm Cairns said Iglesias "has had discussions with officials in Washington, D.C. Based on those discussions, he has decided to move on."
Rumors that Iglesias was in trouble with his superiors at the Department of Justice have been circulating for months.
The chief criticism of Iglesias has been that he had not provided enough resources for public corruption investigations. Some of that criticism has come from the political arena and some from the FBI, which has made political corruption its No. 2 priority behind terrorism.
Iglesias' defenders, in private conversations, argued that the federal prosecutors are overwhelmed with immigration and narcotics cases because of the state's southern border with Mexico.
Confirmation of Iglesias' resignation plans comes while the sentencing of former state Treasurer Robert Vigil is pending.
Vigil was convicted of one count of attempted extortion and acquitted of 23 counts of racketeering and extortion after a four-week trial in the fall. Vigil's attorney, Sam Bregman, claimed victory after the second trial.
Vigil's first trial on essentially the same charges in the spring ended in a hung jury, with 11 of the jurors voting to convict Vigil on at least some of the charges.
Vigil's predecessor, Michael Montoya, pleaded guilty to one count of extortion in a scheme that netted him millions. Montoya testified against Vigil.
Iglesias' resignation also comes while a second corruption case is in the law enforcement pipeline. That case could be as explosive as the Treasurer's Office investigation.
The FBI has been investigating a kickback scheme centered on the construction of the multimillion-dollar state and metro courthouses Downtown.
Last month, Iglesias assigned additional prosecutors to that investigation, which had been in the works since September 2005. The investigation became public last spring when FBI agents began reviewing construction records at the Metropolitan Courthouse.
The pace of that investigation has apparently been a point of contention between investigators and Iglesias' office.
The FBI confirmed in July that it had sent a case involving the courthouses to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Since then, indictments have been expected or rumored on a monthly basis.
That investigation arose from a civil lawsuit between two partners in an Albuquerque engineering firm that implicated former State Sen. Manny Aragon, D-Albuquerque. Aragon confirmed he was a consultant to the firm for a number of years.
A company affiliated with the engineering firm was involved in the construction of the state District Courthouse. The investigation has apparently spread to include architects, lobbyists, contractors and politicians.
Cairns said he could not comment on any pending cases nor the impact of Iglesias' resignation plans.
"Mr. Iglesias is looking at several job opportunities at this point in time," Cairns said.
Iglesias, 48, ran as the Republican candidate for attorney general in 1998, losing to Democrat Patricia Madrid in the general election. He has served as an assistant attorney general and an assistant city attorney in Albuquerque.
He was the first Hispanic nominated as U.S. attorney in New Mexico since Richard Nixon's administration.