On August 2nd, the New Mexico Court of Appeals reinstated criminal charges against PRC Commissioner Jerome Block Jr. and his father, former Commissioner Jerome Block Sr. The charges had previously been dismissed by District Court Judge Michael Vigil. In April 2009, Commissioner Jerome Block Jr. was charged with election violation, tampering with evidence, conspiracy, and embezzlement. His father was charged with same charges, absent the embezzlement charge. The charges arose out of alleged misuse of publicly funded campaign funds during the 2008 election.
Judge Vigil had previously ruled that the secretary of state could either impose a fine for violations or refer a case to the Attorney General, but not both. Jerome Block Jr. had paid a $21,000 fine for the alleged violations. On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals ruled otherwise: "The [law] does not limit the attorney general's authority to prosecute." Judges Rod Kennedy and Jonathan Sutin joined Judge Cynthia Fry in the ruling.
If convicted of a felony charge, Commissioner Block would be removed from the Commission, regardless of any appeal, and Governor Susana Martinez would appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term. Commissioner Block's seat is up for re-election in November 2012. The Court of Appeals ruling can be found under Court of Appeals Case No. 30,285.
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