- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Former New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran agreed Wednesday to turn herself in to deputies at the end of the week to serve 30 days in jail as partial punishment for siphoning money from her election account to fuel a gambling addiction.

Under a plea agreement, Duran had the opportunity to withdraw her pleas but did not.

“With the same resolve with which Ms. Duran swiftly accepted responsibility, she will accept the sentence of the court,” defense attorney Erlinda Johnson said in an email after informing a state district court in Santa Fe about the decision.

Duran, 60, previously pleaded guilty to felony counts of embezzlement and money laundering - transgressions that have led to calls for a major overhaul of state campaign finance and ethics laws.

Judge T. Glenn Ellington on Monday discarded a more lenient plea bargain that Duran had negotiated with prosecutors, The judge noted that Duran had violated campaign finance laws that she had been entrusted to uphold.

He also ordered Duran to make in-person apologies to campaign donors and appearances before school children and civic groups across the state four times a month for three years.

Ellington said he designed the sentence to provide personal rehabilitation and help restore public faith in officials holding public office.

Duran is set to begin her jail term on Friday.

She quickly fulfilled one sentence requirement by distributing a letter of apology to the public for publication in six media outlets across the state.

“I only hope the people of the state of New Mexico will move forward and someday forgive my actions which were not borne out of greed but rather a result of very tragic personal circumstances which led to some very poor decisions on my part,” Duran wrote.

The former state senator from Tularosa had sought leniency in court filings, citing undisclosed personal hardships and a growing gambling disorder. A mental health assessment was submitted to the court and kept under seal.

Johnson said she still may request changes to elements of the sentence “that are tantamount to public shaming.” Major provisions such as jail time and financial penalties will not be challenged, she said.

Duran also must pay a $14,000 fine, make restitution of nearly $14,000 to campaign donors, serve five years of probation and perform 2,000 hours of community service at charities. She was ordered to stay away from casinos and will wear a GPS tracking device for at least two years.

Duran’s public pension of nearly $60,000 a year will remain intact.

A Republican city councilor from Albuquerque was sworn in as secretary of state on Tuesday to oversee an agency upended by a campaign finance scandal.

Brad Winter, a councilor since 1999 and a longtime public school administrator, said he would guide the agency through the November general election, when a new secretary of state will be chosen and take office in January 2017.

Joe Kabourek, executive director of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, said Winter may lack the political independence needed to restore confidence in the agency.

He noted that Winter employed a political strategist, McCleskey Media Strategies, in his most recent campaign and that the firm also has worked for Duran.

“There’s a lot of cleaning up that has to be done,” Kabourek said. “I think there is a fair question about whether this guy can get it done.”

accepted a 30-day jail sentence on Wednesday after pleading guilty earlier to charges involving the siphoning of money from her election account to fuel a gambling addiction.

Duran’s attorney Erlinda Johnson notified a state district court in Santa Fe of her client’s decision, and Duran is set to start serving the sentence on Friday.


In Duran’s sentencing on Monday,

Major provisions such as jail time and financial penalties will not be challenged, she said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide