- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A New Mexico prosecutor who lost a legal challenge seeking to revive a public corruption case against former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron said Tuesday that he is considering taking it to the state’s highest court.

The state Court of Appeals ruled last week that charges against Vigil-Giron were properly dismissed in November 2012 because delays in the case violated her constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Vigil-Giron, a Democrat, was secretary of state from 1999 to 2006. She was indicted in 2009 on charges of fraud, money laundering and embezzlement in misuse of federal money in a voter education campaign.

A special prosecutor, Joseph Campbell, appealed a Bernalillo County district court judge’s decision to dismiss the case. He was appointed after Attorney General Gary King’s office was disqualified.

Campbell said Tuesday that no decision has been made on whether to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court, but it’s under consideration.

Vigil-Giron’s attorney, Robert Gorence, said the appeals court made the “abundantly right decision.”

He said his “only regret is that Rebecca never got the opportunity to totally clear her name in a public trial so there would be no doubt by anyone that she was unfairly prosecuted to begin with.”

There were numerous changes of judges in the Vigil-Giron case, and the court said delays were caused “in large part by the administrative failures of the district court.” It took 18 months for the district court to resolve Vigil-Giron’s request to disqualify the attorney general.

The appeals court agreed that Vigil-Giron had been prejudiced and her defense impaired by the delays.

Vigil-Giron said she had suffered from stress, insomnia, joint pain, hypertension and had been unable to find a job.

Three others were charged along with Vigil-Giron - former political consultant Armando Gutierrez, who died last year, and Joe and Elizabeth Kupfer of Rio Rancho.

The charges stemmed from $6 million in contracts that Vigil-Giron had with Gutierrez to produce commercials using federal money.

Gutierrez and Joe Kupfer, a former lobbyist who was a consultant to Gutierrez, were convicted in a separate federal prosecution related to their work for the secretary of state’s office. Kupfer and his wife also were found guilty in 2012 of tax evasion. Federal prosecutors said the consultants conspired to overbill the government $2.5 million for work that wasn’t done.

State charges against the Kupfers have been dismissed, but Campbell said appeals are pending in the Court of Appeals.

A key defense witness, former elections bureau chief Hoyt Clifton, also died while the case was pending.



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