Ex-state Rep. and Democrat Majority Leader (the second highest-ranking member of the New Mexico House) Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-Bernalillo) has been embroiled in scandal ever since it was revealed in July she had been allegedly embezzling around $1 million from New Mexico’s taxpayers — specifically New Mexico’s Children through the Albuquerque Public Schools, where she used to work.
The Piñon Post’s exclusive report uncovering her ties to other high-profile New Mexico Democrats has revealed Stapleton’s alleged graft has been going on for around 30 years, in tandem with Joseph Johnson, a shady former New Mexico secretary of health who also has previously been hit with bribery and fraud charges.
On Monday, Stapleton was indicted on 28 counts. Here they are, per ABQ Raw:
The charges include 10 counts of improper statutory citations ranging from second to fourth-degree felonies, two counts of violating the ethical principles of public service, both misdemeanors, nine counts of engaging in official acts for personal gain, all of them being fourth-degree felonies, at least one count of tax evasion (a fourth-degree felony), among others.
The lengthy grand jury indictment is bad news for Stapleton, who claims she is innocent, per her attorney, despite the crippling evidence against her. But her past record of bad-faith actions in office does not exactly show a gleaming record.
In 2011, Larry Barker of KRQE 13 News found that Stapleton “pocketed more than $100,000 — money she didn’t earn — from APS over the years while serving in the legislature. But instead of being punished or forced to pay it back, Superintendent Winston Brooks changed the rules for Stapleton.” Brooks dismissed Stapleton’s $167,000 worth of unauthorized leave from APS, saying, “What I did was I changed the employee handbook so that anyone can be a legislator in Santa Fe and be paid for it.”
In 2018, former Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission executive director Kimberly Greene and former employees Cheryl Yazzie and Charles Countee pleaded guilty to fraud and embezzlement charges by creating phony state vouchers to heist over $67,700 from the Commission. According to Greene, she claims she “was coerced by [then]-House Minority Whip Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, to enter into a no-bid contract with eRead, an outside contractor for ACT/SAT program,” according to the New Mexico Political Report. However, Stapleton claimed, “I was never involved, never spoke to anybody about a no-bid contract.”
Now, New Mexicans will see if justice exists in New Mexico’s justice system, with many former corrupt elected officials have gotten off easy with probation, parole, and little, if any jail time. Maybe 30 years’ worth of alleged corruption in Stapleton’s case will force the justice system to make an example of her.