I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Bill would create special prosecutor for SIC
A special prosecutor hired by the New Mexico Attorney General would investigate and recover any money lost from state investment funds due to fraud under legislation that unanimously passed the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon. “I believe personally that we have $270 million to $290 million that are lost,” Sen. President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, said. “Hopefully we could get a return on that money.”
“The purpose of this office is to try to recover any and all moneys possibly lost by the State Investment Council, ERB (Educational Retirement Board) and PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association),” Jennings said.
SB 269, sponsored by Jennings, D-Roswell, passed 30 to nothing in the Senate Tuesday afternoon.
The legislation would create an office of independent counsel empowered to issue subpoenas and forward possible criminal violations to the New Mexico Attorney General’s office.
So far, the State Investment Council has acknowledged losing tens of millions of dollars in investments gone sour while the Educational Retirement Board has lost $40 million. Pay-to-play allegations have swirled around the deals that ultimately went sour.
The bill also appropriates $400,000 for the new office.
Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, appeared concerned that the expenses for the new office would be paid for from the state’s investment funds, and not by moneys recouped by the special prosecutor.
“The chance of recovery is great with some of these funds,” Jennings responded. “It makes more sense than to say adios to those (lost) funds. We’ve never had anyone lose this much money.”
The idea of a special prosecutor, or independent counsel, comes at a time the State Investment Council is at the center of an ongoing scandal involving pay-to-play allegations. Federal authorities are investigating possible criminal and securities violations.
Meanwhile, former State Investment Officer Gary Bland resigned in October after New Mexico’s former investment adviser pleaded guilty to securities fraud in New York. As part of the plea deal, Saul Meyer of Aldus Equity admitted to pushing certain deals to New Mexico’s two investment agencies — the SIC and Educational Retirement Board —because politically connected individuals here recommended them.
Meyer didn’t name names. But Bland, who helped in hiring Meyer, appeared to be close to two people well known by now to those following New Mexico’s investment scandal: Marc Correra and Anthony Correra.
Marc Correra shared $22 million in fees over half a dozen years, according to spreadsheets provided by both the SIC and ERB. The huge amount of fees has provoked outrage from state lawmakers and others in recent months, fueled in part by some investments that have failed, costing the state more than $100 million by conservative estimates.
Marc Correra is the son of Anthony Correra, a friend of Richardson who was involved in the hiring of Bland, the former top staff member at the State Investment Council.
The elder Correra appears to have had a role in the hiring of Bland becoming the state investment officer.
No one in law enforcement has accused either Correra of wrongdoing. And Marc Correra’s attorneys in the past have said he worked hard to earn the fees he was paid.
The special prosecutor, as envisioned in the legislation, would determine if the money that New Mexico has lost was because of fraud and to recover those funds if possible.
If the Attorney General’s office doesn’t accept the referral the special prosecutor could continue to pursue his or her investigation.
The special prosecutor would work as an independent contractor with the New Mexico Attorney General for one year, with additional one-year extensions as an option. But it would be independent of the AG’s office and report to the Legislative Council and the Legislative Finance Committee.