White collar crime's a dirty business: FBI battles a state load of public corruption

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By Carol A. Clark

ALBUQUERQUE — Public officials who are successful, well-respected family men and women risk it all the day they act out of greed. When they cross that line, chances are better than good they will come to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The abuse of power by public officials goes back a long way in this state, said Special Agent Marcus B. McCaskill, with the FBI’s White Collar Crime Program. Their motivation is a desire for more money, more power or both, McCaskill told participants at the FBI Citizens’ Academy Tuesday.

“We get Fs in New Mexico from every ethics group in the nation,” he said. “It’s a universal problem but it is a problem worse in New Mexico. We are in the top five in the nation.”

Special Agent In Charge Thomas C. McClenaghan explained that public corruption is one of the hardest cases to make.

“I think we could put our entire office of 117 agents in this state on public corruption and we wouldn’t be able to cover it all because there is so much,” he said.

McCaskill reviewed a number of such cases investigated by the FBI. From 2004-2007, he worked on the investigative team for the “Midas Touch” case targeting New Mexico treasurers Robert Vigil and Michael Montoya.

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