ALBUQUERQUE— Former New Mexico state Senate leader Manny Aragon was sentenced Tuesday to 5 1/2 years in prison for his role in a corruption case that stained his long career of public service.
Aragon also was fined $750,000 — the bulk of which he already has forfeited to the government — and ordered to pay at least $649,000 in restitution.
Aragon, an Albuquerque Democrat who served in the Senate for 29 years, offered a rambling 20-minute speech, and then broke into tears, before being sentenced by U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson.
Once one of New Mexico’s most powerful politicians, Aragon last year pleaded guilty to three federal felony counts of conspiracy and mail fraud in a scheme to defraud the state in the construction of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Courthouse in Albuquerque.
U.S. Attorney Greg Fouratt said after Tuesday’s hearing that “the era of picking the taxpayers’ pockets is over.”
The real surprise, for those of us who covered him the Legislature, was that the rambling speech was only 20 minutes.