Monday, May 16, 2011

Cruces Judicial Bribery -- How Far Does it Go?

The ghost of Cricket Coogler has to be watching the latest tale of corruption in Las Cruces with great interest.

A Dona Ana County grand jury late Friday indicted State District Judge Mike Murphy on charges of demanding or receiving a bribe by a public employee; bribery of a public officer or employee; bribery, intimidation, or retaliation against a witness; and criminal solicitation. He faces more than 10 years in prison.

The best way to catch up on this is to read Heath Haussamen's excellent coverage. Start HERE. Also below, unapologetically stolen from Heath's site, is the indictment itself and a report by investor Dan Blair. (Scroll down several pages to get to that.)

In a nutshell, Murphy allegedly told others that he paid $4,000 to get then Gov. Bill Richardson to appoint him, and told others this is the way judicial appointments were made.

It's important to note that Richardson has not been charged with any crime. In fact, there's no evidence in this indictment that Richardson himself ever saw any of this alleged bribe money.

But a  major question raised by this indictment is, if indeed there was a pay-for-play scheme in Las Cruces, is whether the practice of buying judgeships going on in other parts of the state? Again, there's no evidence of this presented in the indictment report -- and an indictment is only a charge. Murphy has not been proven guilty.

Murphy Indictment Report