- Defendant also Ordered to Pay $43,380 in Restitution
ALBUQUERQUE – U.S. District Judge Martha Vazquez sentenced Larry Mendoza, a former Revenue Agent of the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department, to 46 months of imprisonment for his conviction on Hobbs Act extortion charges in federal court today in Santa Fe.
Mendoza will be on supervised release for three years after completing his prison sentence. Judge Vazquez also ordered Mendoza to pay $43,380 in restitution.
In announcing Mendoza’s sentence, U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson said, “Public employees violate a sacred trust when they use the instruments of government for self-enrichment, and this Office will vigorously pursue and prosecute such abuses.”
“The hard-working people of New Mexico deserve and expect honest public servants who will make sure every tax dollar goes toward making this state a great place to live,” said Special Agent in Charge James C. Langenberg of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division. “While most government employees perform their duties without reproach, the few who seek only to line their own pockets undermine the public’s confidence in our democracy. The FBI hopes this case sends a strong message that civil servants who victimize the people who pay their salaries will be held accountable.”
Mendoza, 45, of Santa Fe, pled guilty Nov. 17, 2017, to a three-count felony information charging him with Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right. The felony information charged Mendoza abusing his position as a state Revenue Agent between February 2017 and May 2017, to extort $2,500 from a business owner in return for reducing the business owner’s tax liability.
According to court records, the New Mexico State Taxation and Revenue Department employed Mendoza from 2007 through 2017. Beginning in Oct ober 2013, Mendoza began working as a Revenue Agent with responsibilities that included collecting outstanding taxes owed by New Mexico business owners. In Feb. 2017, Mendoza approached a business owner with a proposal that the business owner pay him $500 a month in exchange for Mendoza lowering the business owner’s tax obligation to the State of New Mexico.
After the business owner gave Mendoza $500 in Feb. 2017 and another additional $500 in March 2017, Mendoza logged onto his work computer May 11, 2017 and reduced the business owner’s tax liability to the State of New Mexico by $8,000. On that same day (May 11, 2017), Mendoza solicited another $1,500 from the business owner in exchange for reducing his tax obligation. May 24, 2017, the business owner gave $1,500 to Mendoza in exchange for Mendoza’s reduction of the business owner’s tax obligation to the State of New Mexico.
In entering his guilty plea, Mendoza admitted that the money he solicited and received from the business owner was for his personal use and benefit, and that he was not entitled to that money. Mendoza also admitted that he engaged in a similar pattern of criminal conduct with other business owners and that his criminal conduct was responsible for losses in excess of $40,000.
The New Mexico State Taxation and Revenue Department placed Mendoza on administrative leave May 24, 2017, and his employment was terminated shortly thereafter.
The FBI offices in Albuquerque and Santa Fe investigated the case, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Holland S. Kastrin.