Paper: At least one indicted in housing authority case
At least one indictment has been returned by a grand jury investigating the housing authority scandal, the Albuquerque Journal is reporting, but that action remains under seal because one of two grand juries convened in the case is still hearing testimony.
The first of two grand juries met Friday but didn’t finish its work, the Journal is reporting. That grand jury “apparently will continue to hear testimony in the coming weeks.” The second grand jury, which met Monday, “returned an indictment that was sealed to prevent publicity that could affect the work of the other grand jury,” the Journal article states.
The article doesn’t name the person who has been indicted.
The newspaper reported that the grand jury that has returned an indictment “has been investigating a $300,000 loan the (Region III Housing Authority) made to its then-executive director, Vincent ‘Smiley’ Gallegos. The grand jury also has been looking into the roles of other board employees and contract employees in the transaction.”
That’s among the more egregious examples of misuse of public money in the case. The scandal first captured headlines in 2006 when the Albuquerque-based Region III authority defaulted on $5 million in bonds it owed the state. The State Investment Council (SIC) and state auditor have found widespread misuse of the bond money, which was supposed to be spent on houses.
The misuse included the $300,000 loan to Gallegos, the man at the center of the scandal, under the guise of purchasing more than 30 lots in Las Cruces — lots that had already been purchased by the authority. Gallegos repaid the loan before he resigned in 2006.
There has been some action in response to the scandal. The AG obtained court orders to boot three tenants from homes owned by Region III because they didn’t qualify for affordable housing — two employees of the authority and a board member. A judge was disciplined for a conflict of interest related to the scandal. And the SIC is suing Gallegos and Albuquerque bond attorney Robert Strumor in an attempt to recover public money that was lost when Region III defaulted on the bonds.
The attorney general’s office isn’t confirming or in any other way commenting on the work of the grand juries, which is secret until indictments are made public.
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