Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson, when he was governor

Municipal Judge Virginia Vigil recused herself Monday from the hit-and-run case of former Gov. Bill Richardson. He was cited by Santa Fe police Jan. 6 after he allegedly rear-ended a car on Paseo de Peralta and left the scene.

Vigil said she withdrew because she lobbied fellow Democrat Richardson for capital construction money while she was a county commissioner.

Vigil’s decision postpones a hearing that was scheduled for Wednesday. Municipal Court Administrator Arlene Sisnerossaid another judge will likely be assigned by Friday or early next week.

Police charged Richardson after a complaint by a motorist. She said she stopped at a four-way stop about 8 a.m. at Paseo de Peralta and Marcy Street when the former governor hit her Acura from behind, according to a police report. The woman told police Richardson’s 2004 Jeep hit her a second time “hard enough” that it “pushed her into the intersection,” the report says.

The woman turned left on Marcy Street to get out of the intersection and saw the yellow Jeep continue north on Paseo de Peralta, according to the report.

Police cited Richardson for following too closely and failing to remain at the scene.

In an interview with The New Mexican in January, Richardson described the accident as “just a tap.”

Richardson said he regretted not stopping and not doing more to contact the Acura’s driver.

But the former governor said he had only been driving approximately 5 mph when his vehicle tapped the car in front of him. Richardson said he watched to see if the driver was going to pull over but continued when it did not immediately stop.

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