State Auditor Brian Colón
From the Office of the State Auditor:
…The report issued by an independent accounting firm details financial mismanagement and potential criminal violations
ALBUQUERQUE – State Auditor Brian Colón today released a report, issued by an independent forensic accounting firm contracted by the City of Las Cruces (City) regarding alleged financial wrongdoing at the City of Las Cruces Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (Bureau).
The report has been referred for further review and potential criminal investigation.
The City initiated the engagement following an internal investigation, which identified potential financial mismanagement by its former Economic Development Director (Director).
The report details a significant breakdown or willful disregard of internal controls, designed to prevent and detect fraud, including numerous violations of City policies and procedures and apparent violations of the procurement code.
“The potential conflicts of interest and abuse of power uncovered by the independent forensic accounting firm and detailed in the report are of great concern,” Auditor Colón said. “The events organized by the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to bring joy to the community are an important part to the local economy. To see allegations of corruption by the former Director and influential community members for their own personal gain is deeply troubling.”
The report highlights concerning issues such as potential conflicts of interest between the former Director and a local vendor that include quid pro quo and conspiracy to alter and conceal financial reports.
Additional troubling findings include breach of contract and unlawful donations of City employee time/staffing, funds, and equipment to perform duties and services that were paid for by the City and yet, not rendered by the same local vendor.
“The severe breakdown of internal controls left the City vulnerable and at risk for waste, fraud and abuse. I am encouraged by the actions taken by the City and based on the allegations found in this report I have referred this matter for further review,” Auditor Colón said.
New Mexicans concerned about potential instances of waste, fraud and abuse should contact the Office of the State Auditor. Reports may be made anonymously at www.saonm.org or by calling 1-866-OSA-FRAUD. Speak directly to an investigator at 505.476.3800.