ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The state auditor on Monday suspended an audit into the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Commission and called for the Department of Finance Administration to take over the panel’s day-to-day financial operations as its executive director faces accusations of possible fraud and embezzlement.
In a letter sent to commission chairwoman Karen Montoya, New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller said the move is necessary for the commission’s small remaining staff.
He said moving forward with a plan to review the agency’s books wasn’t feasible because documents and computers seized last week as part of the state attorney general’s investigation into possible financial abuses would have been needed to conduct the audit.
The commission has been on the state’s “at-risk” list the last two years for failing to file required annual audits. A contract to complete missing audits for the commission had been finalized last month, Keller said.
“The state of turmoil at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission places their important work in jeopardy. The best way to ensure the viability of the Commission is for another state agency to temporarily assume its financial operations,” Keller said in a statement.
The commission has a budget of $336,000 to promote diversity and organize events around Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
State Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office confirmed it was investigating the commission last Tuesday, the same day agents moved documents and computers from the commission’s office in Albuquerque.
A day later, search warrants showed detailed checks issued to executive director Kimberly Greene and what’s believed to be a forged invoice for more than $51,000.
Keller said he would turn over needed documents to Balderas’ office for its investigation, and planned to resume the audit process at a later date.
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