DALLAS — An alleged pay-to-play scheme in New Mexico involving former Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration was similar to one in New York that resulted in criminal penalties, according to lawsuits filed in state and federal court.
The “New Mexico pay-to-play scheme that forms the basis for this action not only resembles the New York scheme in many respects, but also involves many of the same participants and investments,” according to the lawsuit filed Friday by the state attorney general on behalf of the State Investment Council.
The civil lawsuit comes after a New Mexico grand jury inquiry into the selection of firms in bond-swap transactions resulted in no criminal charges.
Defendants in the New Mexico civil case include former state investment officer Gary Bland and Anthony Correra, who was a consultant to Richardson.
Guy Riordan, former managing director of Wachovia Securities in New Mexico and former State Game Commission chairman, is also named in the lawsuit.
Federal defendants include former SIC investment adviser Saul Meyer and his company Aldus Equity Partners. Anthony Correra’s son, Marc Correra, and 11 others are also named. All have denied wrongdoing.
The suits seek reimbursement for millions of dollars paid to individuals who steered more than $1 billion in state investments.
The suits allege that the elder Correra played the role of gatekeeper in recommending state investments.
According to the court filing, the investments went to politically connected individuals, many of whom made and solicited contributions to Richardson’s political campaigns.
Meyer and other Aldus partners agreed to pay a total of $1 million in restitution and forfeit $5.4 million in management fees as part of a settlement with then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, now governor, in his investigation of pay-to-play involving investments of the $140.6 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund in Albany.
The complaint alleged Bland made “alternative investments pushed on him by politically connected individuals, even though he knew not only that these politically connected individuals or their associates stood to benefit financially or politically from the investments, but also that the investments were not necessarily in the best interests of New Mexico.”
An attorney for Bland said the accusation was unfounded.
Riordan, the suit claims, aided Bland’s breach of fiduciary duty.
The SEC fined Riordan $1.5 million and banned him from the securities industry for life in 2009 for making secret cash payments to former New Mexico Treasurer Michael Montoya in exchange for winning state business.