Public official's corruption case appears not to threaten pension rights

We previously wrote on this blog about the public corruption case of former New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna K. Duran, who was accused of embezzlement and other crimes. Duran, we wrote, was given a plea deal which suspended sentencing provided she meet certain conditions.

As we noted, one controversial aspect of the plea deal was that Duran was able to keep her government pension. It was thought that Duran might be the first public official to lose her pension under legislation from 2012 which allows judges in that state to fine elected officials convicted of a felony related to their public office an amount equal to the official’s salary and fringe benefits, but that did not happen in Duran’s case.

Both Duran’s case and a more recent public corruption case against Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla are exceptions to the 2012 law, which is why their pensions were and are not at issue. The reason Duran was not hit with the 2012 law, according to the Attorney General, was that because Duran’s embezzlement related to campaign funds rather than taxpayer dollars, the law did not clearly apply in her case.

Neither does Padilla’s case appear to involve the pension fine law, since her office is an appointment rather than an elected position. It remains to be seen whether Padilla was be convicted of the underlying charges, of course, and what kind of penalties will ultimately be imposed if she is convicted.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at the issue of pension rights for public officials convicted on corruption charges, both from the perspective of Maryland and federal law.


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