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Today's News

  • Former Sandia Labs employee pleads guilty in fraud case

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A former Sandia National Laboratories worker accused of creating a phony company to defraud the New Mexico facility of more than $2 million has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering.

    Prosecutors say 55-year-old Carla Sena of Santa Rosa will be sentenced at a later date.

    A federal grand jury indicted Sena last month on 11 counts including wire fraud, major fraud against the U.S. and money laundering.

    Most of the lab’s work involves research, development and maintenance of nuclear weapons.

    A former procurement officer, Sena was tasked in 2010 with overseeing the bidding for a $2.3 million contract for moving services.

    The indictment accused Sena of preparing a bid for a company under someone else’s name and leveraging other bidders’ information to ensure herself the winning bid.

  • The Latest: Company: Cause of pipeline rupture unknown

    LOVING, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on a pipeline explosion and fire (all times local):

    12:05 p.m.

    A Houston-based energy company says it's investigating what caused one of its natural gas pipelines to rupture, explode and catch fire in southeastern New Mexico's oil patch.

    Spokesman Rick Rainey of Enterprise Products Partners L.P. says the incident early Wednesday morning in a sparsely populated rural area south of Carlsbad involved a line that transfers gas from wells to a treatment facility.

    Eddy County Emergency Manager Jennifer Armendariz says there are no reported injuries but that one storage building burned before authorities shut down the pipeline to extinguish the fire.

    Armendariz says authorities first had to identify what company's pipeline was involved.

    The incident caused the closure of two nearby highways. U.S. 285 was reopened to traffic late Wednesday morning while State Route 31 remained closed.

    6:40 a.m.

    A pipeline exploded in southeastern New Mexico's oil patch, closing two highways but causing no reported injuries.

    Eddy County Emergency Manager Jennifer Armendariz says the pipeline that exploded early Wednesday morning is in a sparsely populated area about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Carlsbad believed to be used for natural gas.

  • Garcia Holmes, Morales enter races for lieutenant governor

    SANTA FE (AP) — Two more candidates have jumped into the race for New Mexico lieutenant governor.

    State Sen. Howie Morales is running for the Democratic nomination in a crowded primary race. Michele Garcia Holmes will seek the Republican nomination, with no other current contenders.

    A former teacher, Morales of Silver City has served in the state Senate since 2008 and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014. Garcia Holmes is a former police officer and former chief of staff to the New Mexico Attorney General's Office.

    The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that other Democrats in the race are Eagles Nest resident Jeff Carr, Dona Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett, former House Majority Leader Rick Miera, and David McTeigue, a juvenile probation officer from Rio Rancho.

  • Garcia Holmes, Morales enter races for lieutenant governor

     

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    SANTA FE (AP) — Two more candidates have jumped into the race for New Mexico lieutenant governor.

    State Sen. Howie Morales is running for the Democratic nomination in a crowded primary race. Michele Garcia Holmes will seek the Republican nomination, with no other current contenders.

    A former teacher, Morales of Silver City has served in the state Senate since 2008 and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014. Garcia Holmes is a former police officer and former chief of staff to the New Mexico Attorney General's Office.

    The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that other Democrats in the race are Eagles Nest resident Jeff Carr, Dona Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett, former House Majority Leader Rick Miera, and David McTeigue, a juvenile probation officer from Rio Rancho.

  • LAPS board member Ben-Naim honored for training

    Ellen Ben-Naim, a school board member with the Los Alamos Public Schools, received an “exemplary” award from her fellow school board members statewide during a recent annual conference of the New Mexico School Boards Association.

    Ben-Naim, who represents District 1 in Los Alamos on the board, was recognized for earning 20 or more hours of training in leadership.

    She was elected to the local board in March.

    The school board officials from across the state participated in the annual meeting, which occurred in Albuquerque on Friday and Saturday.

  • Bandelier smoke alarm draws firefighters Tuesday

    An office building at Bandelier National Monument was evacuated and Los Alamos Fire Department personnel were called to the scene on Tuesday as a fire alarm was activated in the building.

    Firefighters reported finding smoke inside of a one-story brick building.

    The cause was likely a damper that wasn’t released before a fire was started in a fireplace, said LAFD Chief Troy Hughes.

    “It’s the coldest day of the year,” Hughes said.

    No one was injured.

  • New Mexico Legislature under scrutiny for self-enrichment

    SANTA FE (AP) — Limited safeguards against self-enrichment in the nation's only unsalaried legislature are under scrutiny in the wake of a corruption trial and felony convictions against a former New Mexico state senator.

    Former Sen. Phil Griego is awaiting sentencing after a jury found him guilty of fraud, felony ethical violations and other charges.

    The case is a central exhibit in the campaign for a 2018 ballot initiative. New Mexico voters will consider whether to create an independent ethics commission that could shift the review of complaints against lawmakers from closed-door committees to a more public forum.

    Some lawmakers say the unsalaried status of lawmakers has turned into a liability that is exploited by high-paid lobbyists. Others say citizen legislators bring needed expertise to policy debates.
     

  • More study needed on nuclear pit production

    STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

    The agency that oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile says further study is needed to determine the best option for the United States as it looks to ramp up production of the plutonium cores that trigger nuclear weapons.

    The National Nuclear Security Administration said Monday that a team of external and internal engineering experts will further analyze the two options that were identified as part of an earlier review that looked at the most efficient and cost effective means of making the pits.

    Agency spokeswoman Lindsey Geisler told The Associated Press the options include leaving the work to Los Alamos National Laboratory or moving it to the U.S. Energy Department’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

    It’s not clear how long the extra analysis will take, but the agency said new pits must be made to ensure the nation’s nuclear forces are flexible and tailored to deter 21st-century threats.

    Since news of the report surfaced Monday, New Mexico’s congressional delegation has been on the defensive.

  • Balderas continues to fight Trump agenda

    Since President Donald Trump was elected in November 2016, New Mexico’s Attorney General Hector Balderas has filed legal challenges against the president’s agenda more than 30 times.

    Balderas, a Democrat, has joined with attorneys general in several other states over the past several months to challenge Trump’s actions on the environment, affordable health care, travel bans and the status of young immigrants, among other issues.

    At least one sector, the oil and gas industry, questioned Balderas’s opposition to Trump’s actions to deregulate energy production and use.

    For the past several months, three attorneys who work for the office have been assigned to the federal filings, said James Hallinan, communications director for Balderas.

    “They are public employees and this is one of many parts of their numerous job duties, handling these cases,” Hallinan said.

    There is no cost to file the paperwork at the federal courts in Washington, New York, San Francisco, and elsewhere, Hallinan said.

    In the U.S. Supreme Court, New Mexico is among several other states with amicus – or friend – filings made in regards to redistricting, voting rights and gay rights, by Balderas and attorneys working for his office.

  • Health office on list of County Council’s legislative priorities

    Los Alamos County Council has put the full reinstatement of a state public health office for the county on its list of legislative priorities.

    Citing budget cut backs and data supporting not enough need in the community, the New Mexico Department of Health cut hours and staff at its Diamond Avenue office in 2016, and transferred most of those service to its Española branch.

    The department based its decision on data it received about the number of times the office is actually used to counsel Los Alamos teens on unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.  

    The office, which is located across the street from the high school, was seen as a place for teens to go for confidential advice and services. The county pays for the space for the office, and is has been asking the state to restore the office to full-service.

    “It’s something we’ve been working on since they shut down, or effectively shut down the one we’ve got, having our teenagers drive to Española to get some confidential help,” Councilor Rick Reiss said.

    Reiss also said the request is also more than just about getting their health office back, it’s about having the state meet its obligations to its citizens.