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Last updated 8:48PM ET
September 22, 2018
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First News: Fraud charges announced against former St. Vincent Hospital administrator and accomplice. (listen)
(KSFR) - New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has announced fraud charges against a former administrator and a female accomplice at what was then known as Santa Fe's St. Vincent Hospital. Richard Crabtree and Loretta Mares face multiple counts on allegations of embezzling money from some $2.5 million in questionable payments billed between 2005 and 2008. As a hospital financial officer, Crabtree is alleged to have approved contracts from Mares who had ties to several companies providing services. If found guilty on all charges, the pair each face sentences of more than 100 years and hundreds of thousands in fines.

Meanwhile, former Albuquerque mayor and now congressional candidate Martin Chavez is distancing himself from defendant Loretta Mares with whom he had a relationship. His campaign issued a brief statement on Thursday saying the two are no longer connected. Loretta Mares also goes by the name Bernadette Gallegos.

As a result of a recent security assessment of Los Alamos National Laboratory, security procedures are being changed. Random vehicle inspections including vehicles on East and West Jemez roads and roadways leading to some laboratory areas will begin next month. While vehicles on Lab property have been subject to inspection for years, inspections, including the use of bomb sniffing dogs will increase. Drivers refusing inspection will be rerouted around the lab.

The Public Regulation Commission (PRC) is considering whether to allow Sacred Wind Communications to access state Universal Service Fund monies to help pay for telecom projects in the far rural reaches of the Navajo Nation. Sacred Wind is seeking $2 million.
District 1 Commissioner Jason Marks said that the lack of access to telephone services on the Navajo Nation was "an injustice," but cautioned that millions in subsidies have already flowed to Sacred Wind by virtue of PRC orders and that the commission needed to look closely at this request. If approved, Universal Service Fund surcharges will increase statewide.

Scheduled for sentencing on Monday is former PRC member Jerome Block, Jr. On Thursday it was announced Block had completed a court-ordered mental evaluation at the state prison in Los Lunas and was transferred to the Santa Fe County Jail. Block is facing up to 4 and a half years in prison on multiple felony convictions. He had previously been given a chance to avoid jailtime altogether provided he participate in drug program but was kicked out after just a few weeks for numerous infractions of the program's rules.

State senator Peter Wirth and representative Brian Egolf, both of Santa Fe, have announced they'll hold a town hall meeting next Tuesday to conduct a review of the legislative session. The 6-to-8PM event at the Farmer's Market Building in the Railyard will also feature discussion of the capital outlay measure passed by lawmakers that will see some $14 million dedicated to various "brick and mortar" projects throughout Santa Fe County. Wirth and Egolf will also talk about redistricting as a New Mexico judge readies a final map for presentation on Monday.

Weather for Santa Fe - sunny today with highs in the mid 40s. Overnight lows in the mid 20s. Warmer tomorrow with highs in the mid 50s then turning cooler for Sunday with highs dropping back to the mid 40s. The next chance for precipitation arrives Tuesday.
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