Additional charges filed in Sunland Park case
Luis Rene Diaz allegedly billed the city for lobbying services he didn’t provide, and then passed money on to Daniel Salinas to pay the man who recorded the now infamous lap-dance video used in the extortion threat against Gerardo Hernandez.
Additional felony charges were filed against former Sunland Park Mayor-elect Daniel Salinas on Monday, and police also filed charges against another man, bringing the total number of defendants in the wide-ranging public corruption case to 12.
Luis Rene Diaz of El Paso, who Salinas hired to be a lobbyist for the city, is accused of being involved in the alleged extortion threat made against former Sunland Park mayoral candidate Gerardo Hernandez.
Diaz faces third-degree felony charges of fraud and extortion and fourth-degree felony charges of making or permitting false vouchers and two counts of conspiracy. Read the complaint against him here.
The new charges against Salinas include a third-degree felony count of fraud and fourth-degree felonies of making or permitting false vouchers, soliciting an illegal kickback, receiving an illegal kickback, four counts of conspiracy, and two counts of violating ethical principles of public service. Read the complaint against him here.
Salinas is already being held at the Doña Ana County Detention Center. Diaz has been arrested and is currently in El Paso awaiting extradition.
The new criminal complaint alleges that Diaz, under the guise of being a city lobbyist, obtained public money to pay Jose “Pepe” Reyes, who is charged in the extortion case, to record the video of Hernandez getting a lap dance from a topless woman and carry out the extortion threat.
Basically, investigators allege that Rene Diaz billed the city for lobbying services he didn’t provide, obtained payment, and then passed money on to Salinas to pay Jose Reyes.
Former Sunland Park City Manager Jaime Aguilera, who is charged in the extortion case and cooperating with prosecutors, told law enforcement that Salinas hired Rene Diaz on a contract of less than $5,000 – the amount that would require city council approval. Diaz submitted billings but “did not provide anything of value to the city for those bills,” the complaint states.
Rene Diaz provided Aguilera with “money under the table” to give Salinas to pay Jose Reyes, the criminal complaint states. Aguilera told police he thought the envelope contained $3,000.
Investigators found an invoice from Rene Diaz to the city, dated Feb. 6, 2012, for $4,998.75. It states it was for “analysis 32.25 hrs,” and was paid on Feb. 13.
The multi-agency investigation into the city’s dealings has, thus far, led to charges against 12 people that include extortion, voter fraud, bribery and fraud. Charges against Salinas include extortion, bribery and fraud.
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