- Associated Press - Saturday, September 16, 2017

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - A lawsuit alleges that Dona Ana County’s top prosecutor offered to dismiss criminal charges against a defendant in exchange for money.

The complaint filed by former office manager Marylou Bonacci also alleges that District Attorney Mark D’Antonio retained incompetent employees as political favors, improperly used funds and discriminated against women in his office.

The complaint was filed this week in district court, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported (https://bit.ly/2fhOm1U).

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D’Antonio said in a statement to The Associated Press that the claims were absurd. He described them as a “poorly-veiled political attack.”

“As a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor with an unblemished record, I am offended by these vague accusations of corruption - coming years after they are alleged to have occurred,” he said. “This is not only a calculated attack on me and my family, but it undermines the exceptional work my office does every single day. “

The lawsuit accuses D’Antonio, the district attorney’s office and the state of New Mexico of retaliating against Bonacci after she claimed to have raised concerns about alleged improper acts within the office. Bonacci worked at the district attorney’s office from January 2013 to September 2015.

The allegations date back to 2013, D’Antonio’s first year in office. He was re-elected in November.

Bonacci’s lawsuit claims the district attorney would meet with defendants in his office without attorneys present. In one case, Bonacci claims D’Antonio asked her to “secure a loan” from a defendant’s family in exchange for charges being dropped.

The complaint also alleges that the FBI began to investigate after Bonacci told a third party about D’Antonio’s request. FBI spokesman Frank Fisher cited agency policy, saying he would never confirm nor deny a report of an investigation.

According to the complaint, D’Antonio learned about the alleged FBI investigation in August 2015, about a month before Bonacci was fired for being late to work by about nine minutes.

By April 2015, the complaint states Bonacci had been demoted on pretext that her job performance was unsatisfactory. She claims she was not given further explanation. She also alleges she was subjected to a hostile work environment following her demotion.

About a month before her termination, Bonacci accused the defendants of mishandling a child sex case, including “refusal to produce evidence material to the defendant,” according to the complaint.

D’Antonio urged the public to withhold judgment until the facts of the case are brought to light.

Bonacci and her attorneys are seeking a jury trial as well as damages that include lost wages and compensation for emotional pain and suffering.

No trial date has been scheduled.


Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News, https://www.lcsun-news.com

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