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          Front Page




Ex-Treasurer Reports For Prison Term

By Scott Sandlin
Journal Staff Writer
    Former state Treasurer Robert Vigil has reported to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his 37-month sentence at a correctional facility 30 miles southeast of Austin, Texas.
    Vigil, 53, of Ribera, was convicted of attempted extortion under the Hobbs Act, meaning using his elected office, and acquitted of 23 counts of extortion.
    Vigil's attorney, Sam Bregman, said his client had planned to surrender directly to the institution near Bastrop, as the court permitted in a March 27 order.
    A Bureau of Prisons Web site on Monday listed Vigil among inmates but did not say at which prison. An employee who answered the phone at Bastrop late Monday referred questions to the public information officer, who was not available.
    Vigil had been ordered to turn himself in earlier but got the extension of up to three weeks from U.S. District Judge James O. Browning when the Federal Bureau of Prisons hadn't designated a prison by his surrender date. Browning recommended that Vigil serve his time at the Texas prison or one in Florence, Colo.
    The Texas prison opened in 1979. It is a low-security prison for about 1,300 men, who are housed in dormitories in two-man rooms.
    The facility offers adult continuing education and vocational training in building trades, plumbing, dental assistant, computers, carpentry, cooking and electronic repairs. It also has a textile factory operated by Unicor, an operation of Federal Prison Industries Inc., that employs 300 inmates. Unicor, a government-owned corporation, employs about 20,000 inmates nationwide manufacturing items such as firearms holders and desert camouflage jackets, as well as office furniture, industrial products and electronics.
    Bureau of Prisons policy encourages inmates to work if they're medically able. A financial responsibility program requires them to make payments from their earnings— at 23 cents to $1.15 an hour— to satisfy court-ordered fines, victim restitution and other judgments.
    Besides the prison term, Browning ordered Vigil to pay a fine of $97,248 in payments of at least $2,702 a month.
    Vigil has appealed his conviction and his sentence to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
   
Journal reporter T.J. Wilham contributed to this report.