On the eve of New Mexico’s primary election, KOB TV aired an investigative journalism piece exposing a Rio Arriba County political operative and friends offering liquor to an undercover KOB producer, disguised as a homeless man, to vote for candidates the operative supported.
The KOB story, reported by Gadi Schwartz, was described as “explosive” on the
station’s broadcast and reportedly came at the end of three days of surveillance by Schwartz and the producer, Peter St. Cyr, who eventually went undercover himself.
KOB also questioned the three candidates being promoted by the operative, Elias Fresquez. Only county commissioner and state senate candidate Alfredo Montoya would go on the record. Montoya claimed he had no knowledge of Fresquez’s actions and there is no reason to believe he did.
But, ProgressNow New Mexico took a look into the political operative and the potential criminal consequences for what KOB uncovered.
Fresquez is no stranger to the law. Court records show Fresquez has racked up no less than four prior arrests and at least one active civil suit.
Here is the short list:
· June 2010: Disorderly Conduct, Santa Fe County, Warrant issued after he failed to appear in court. Case was ultimately dismissed. (Case no. M-49-MR-201001303 )
· October 2010: DWI and other charges, Santa Fe County, Case appears to still be pending. (Case no. M-49-DR-201000587 )
· January 2011: Criminal Damage to Property, Resisting Arrest and more charges, Santa Fe County, This felony case also appears to dismissed in December 2011. Court records show this case began as after Fresquez allegedly fled the scene of an accident. (Case nos. M-49-FR-201100038 and D-101-CR-201100333 )
· April 2012: Civil Suit for failure to pay debts. Case is pending in Santa Fe District Court. (Case no. D-101-CV-201201001 )
Fresquez told the undercover KOB producer that he did not have a driver’s license (though he was driving), but that may not be the worst of his concerns.
New Mexico’s election laws prohibit a number of things KOB’s undercover investigation appears to show, including offering a bribe to vote for particular candidates (NMSA 1-20-11), unlawful possession of alcohol within 200 feet of a polling place (NMSA 1-20-21) and conspiracy to violate election code (NMSA 1-20-15). Each is a 4th degree felony punishable by up to 18-months in prison.
Sadly, a single person’s apparently independent criminal actions could potentially undermine the integrity of a number of elections in a community already burdened by rumors or scandalous voting practices. These allegations are serious and deserve to be fully investigated as quickly as possible.