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Some Sunland park corruption cases dropped, dismissed

By: Genevieve Curtis

SUNLAND PARK, N.M.-- Dismissed, dropped, delayed -- there seems to be something wrong with case after case following the Sunland Park corruption scandal.

Dona Ana District Attorney Mark D'Antonio said that's because there is. He said some of the cases contained serious flaws; either defendants were charged incorrectly, or evidence didn't support the alleged offense. That led to one case being dismissed and another dropped.

D'Antonio said the administration of former District Attorney Amy Orlando rushed and botched several aspects of the public corruption case. Now, he said his office must re-examine and work with state police to reinvestigate each case before they move forward with prosecution. D'Antonio said he wants to bring people to justice as soon as possible but admits it may take several more months.

Earlier this month, his office dropped charges against Annette Morales, who was accused of embezzling more than $250,00 from the city when she served as a contractor.

D'Antonio said the facts of the case did not support the charges, but the state police have asked to reinvestigate the evidence, and the DA's office is allowing them to go forward.

A district judge dismissed the case against former interim Police Chief Luis Monarez on Monday.

Paul Rubino, chief deputy district attorney, said there was a serious flaw in the indictment of Monarez.

"It was flawed because the statute that they stated in the indictment doesn't even exist," said Rubino.

In total, the DA's office has about 20 cases related to the corruption scandal, and they have resulted in the arrest of several city leaders.

Some of the charges included fraud, voter fraud, elections fraud, embezzlement and extortion.

Because of the Orlando administration's handling of the case, D'Antonio believes there might be some people who will never be brought to justice.

"The unfortunate residue of that is that some people go unpunished," said D'Antonio.

While people in Sunland Park wait for justice, D'Antonio said they're moving as quickly as they can.

"I want the people of Sunland Park to know we care about their case, we care about their community, and we are doing everything in our power to make it right."

KFOX-TV asked Orlando for a comment but has not heard back.



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