DA ac­cused of cor­rup­tion

Ex-worker at of­fice in Doña Ana County files law­suit al­leg­ing bribery, dis­crim­i­na­tion

Santa Fe New Mexican - - LOCAL & REGION -

LAS CRUCES — A law­suit al­leges that Doña Ana County’s top pros­e­cu­tor of­fered to dis­miss crim­i­nal charges against a de­fen­dant in ex­change for money.

The com­plaint filed by for­mer of­fice man­ager Mary­lou Bonacci also al­leges that District At­tor­ney Mark D’An­to­nio re­tained in­com­pe­tent em­ploy­ees as po­lit­i­cal fa­vors, im­prop­erly used funds and dis­crim­i­nated against women in his of­fice.

The com­plaint was filed last week in state District Court, the Las Cruces Sun-News re­ported.

D’An­to­nio said in a state­ment to The As­so­ci­ated Press that the claims were ab­surd. He de­scribed them as a “poorly-veiled po­lit­i­cal at­tack.”

“As a for­mer FBI agent and federal pros­e­cu­tor with an un­blem­ished record, I am of­fended by th­ese vague ac­cu­sa­tions of cor­rup­tion — com­ing years after they are al­leged to have oc­curred,” he said. “This is not only a cal­cu­lated at­tack on me and my fam­ily, but it un­der­mines the ex­cep­tional work my of­fice does ev­ery sin­gle day.”

The law­suit ac­cuses D’An­to­nio, the District At­tor­ney’s Of­fice and the state of New Mex­ico of re­tal­i­at­ing against Bonacci after she claimed to have raised con­cerns about al­leged im­proper acts within the of­fice. Bonacci worked at the District At­tor­ney’s Of­fice from Jan­uary 2013 to September 2015.

The al­le­ga­tions date back to 2013, D’An­to­nio’s first year in of­fice. He was re-elected in Novem­ber.

Bonacci’s law­suit claims the district at­tor­ney would meet with de­fen­dants in his of­fice with­out at­tor­neys present. In one case, Bonacci claims D’An­to­nio asked her to “se­cure a loan” from a de­fen­dant’s fam­ily in ex­change for charges be­ing dropped.

The com­plaint also al­leges that the FBI be­gan to in­ves­ti­gate after Bonacci told a third party about D’An­to­nio’s re­quest. FBI spokesman Frank Fisher, cit­ing agency pol­icy, say­ing he would never con­firm nor deny a re­port of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint, D’An­to­nio learned about the al­leged FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Au­gust 2015, about a month be­fore Bonacci was fired for be­ing late to work by about nine min­utes.

By April 2015, the com­plaint states, Bonacci had been de­moted on pre­text that her job per­for­mance was un­sat­is­fac­tory. She claims she was not given fur­ther ex­pla­na­tion. She also al­leges she was sub­jected to a hos­tile work en­vi­ron­ment fol­low­ing her de­mo­tion.

About a month be­fore her ter­mi­na­tion, Bonacci ac­cused the de­fen­dants of mis­han­dling a child sex case, in­clud­ing “re­fusal to pro­duce ev­i­dence ma­te­rial to the de­fen­dant,” ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

D’An­to­nio urged the pub­lic to with­hold judg­ment un­til the facts of the case are brought to light.

Bonacci and her at­tor­neys are seek­ing a jury trial as well as dam­ages that in­clude lost wages and com­pen­sa­tion for emo­tional pain and suf­fer­ing.

No trial date has been sched­uled.

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