Albuquerque Journal

Lawsuit accuses DA in Cruces of corruption, retaliatio­n

Fired office manager claims inquiry by FBI

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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 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 cited 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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