Former tax chief Padilla pleads not guilty to corruption charges

Demesia Padilla. Luis Sánchez Saturno/New Mexican file photo

Former state Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla on Thursday pleaded not guilty to the seven corruption counts with which she’s charged.

A state district judge in Santa Fe set her trial to begin May 29.

Padilla, who was one of Gov. Susana Martinez’s longest-serving Cabinet secretaries, is accused of embezzling more than $25,000 from one of her accounting clients, Harold’s Grading and Trucking near Bernalillo.

According to testimony at a preliminary hearing in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court, family members who own the business said Padilla claimed the firm owed her money.

Padilla faces a felony embezzlement count as well as a charge of performing an official act for private gain (interfering in an audit of that client), which also is a felony. The remaining five counts are misdemeanors. They allege Padilla violated state ethics rules.