ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Sunland Park's former Mayor-elect Daniel Salinas and its former acting police Chief Luis F. Monarez both were indicted Thursday on bribery and conspiracy charges.
A Dona Ana County grand jury indicted Salinas on 18 criminal counts including fraud, soliciting and receiving an illegal kickback, violation of ethical principles of public service and prohibited official acts for personal financial interest.
Salinas, 28, allegedly conspired with an El Paso businessman to fraudulently bill Sunland Park for thousands of dollars' worth of entertainment — including strippers and prostitutes — during a border conference last November in Mexico.
Authorities claim Salinas also allegedly conspired to charge Sunland Park for a campaign video by hiding that expense in a bill for a video promoting a border crossing project.
Salinas is being held on a $250,000 cash bond set when he appeared April 9 in Third Judicial District Court for his first appearance on the kickback and fraud case, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News (http://bit.ly/JkKgfS).
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Salinas' attorney Joshua Spencer said his client is looking forward to his day in court.
Salinas allegedly installed Monarez as the city's acting police chief in January in exchange for Monarez' sister not running for a City Council seat held by a Salinas political ally, according to court documents.
Monarez, 43, is currently free on a $30,000 secured bond and is on unpaid leave from the city. It was unclear Thursday whether Monarez has a lawyer for his case.
Salinas was elected mayor in March but could not be sworn in because of the criminal charges pending against him.
Javier Perea was appointed by City Council as the town's mayor Wednesday night.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.