A top New Mexico Democratic state lawmaker just resigned as the investigation into possible fraud, racketeering, illegal kickbacks and money laundering by her and her associates heats up.
Sheryl Williams Stapleton resigned Friday as New Mexico’s House majority leader. She stepped down from her seat too. This comes after state and federal authorities served subpoenas on an Albuquerque school district where Stapleton works.
Stapleton is the director of the school district’s Career and Technical Education. She has been placed on administrative leave. Eleven others were also placed on leave until the investigation is finished. The New Mexico Attorney General’s Offices raided Stapleton’s home and office last week serving a warrant accusing her of stealing millions of dollars from taxpayers.
Stapleton was the first Black woman elected to the New Mexico Legislature. She was in leadership as well, rising to become the second-highest-ranking leader in the New Mexico House.
“Ms. Williams Stapleton is eager to cooperate in the investigation to clear her name of any wrongdoing,” Stapleton’s attorney Ahmad Assed said. “Ms. Williams Stapleton adamantly maintains that innocence.”
Longtime state lawmaker and Albuquerque Public Schools employee Sheryl Williams Stapleton is accused of stealing millions of dollars from taxpayers. Wednesday morning, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant on her home and businesses where the allegations were revealed.
A 32-page search warrant outlines how Stapleton is accused of stealing more than $5.3 million from APS, starting 13 years ago. It was uncovered shortly after APS Superintendent Scott Elder took over and reported suspicious behavior this year.
According to the search warrant, it didn’t take long for the Attorney General’s Office to uncover evidence of possible racketeering, money laundering and receiving kickbacks.
They allege that Stapleton convinced APS to contract with a software company to provide services to students.
However, they allege that the company never produced a workable program and was not a legitimate company. They were paid more than $5 million over 13 years.
Wednesday agents were at Stapleton’s home gathering potential evidence of that. They were also at her business the “Taste of the Caribbean,” a restaurant near the University of New Mexico where investigators believed she used some of that stolen money.
They also allege Stapleton used her position in the Roundhouse to funnel other state funds to two nonprofit foundations she ran.
The New Mexico Attorney General says this all went unreported until recently.
“I would hope the New Mexico legislature will strengthen conflicts of interest and certain disclosures in order to mitigate some of these risks,” said Hector Balderas, New Mexico Attorney General.
BREAKING: 13 employees of Albuquerque Public Schools will be placed on paid leave pending an internal investigation into state Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, who is suspected of pocketing public money through her work at APS. https://t.co/V5n6Ynr9sM— KOB 4 (@KOB4) July 29, 2021
New Mexico lawmaker Sheryl Williams Stapleton resigns amid investigation https://t.co/vavm5xNodY— Las Cruces Sun-News (@CrucesSunNews) July 31, 2021