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Ex-New Mexico lawmaker facing more federal charges, accused of diverting money meant for schools

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Former New Mexico state Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton is facing more federal charges related to allegations that she abused her position as an Albuquerque Public Schools administrator.

Williams Stapleton is accused of diverting money meant for vocational education at Albuquerque Public Schools to businesses and charities in which she had an interest. She also is accused of using her legislative position for personal benefit.

A grand jury indictment filed Tuesday in federal court alleges that Williams Stapleton helped funnel more than $3 million into a Washington, D.C.-based company she helped run, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The newspaper said about $2.5 million of that money was in federal funds.

Williams Stapleton now is facing 30 federal counts including bribery, mail fraud and money laundering.

She has denied any wrongdoing and is scheduled to be arraigned April 9 on the federal charges.

Williams Stapleton still is awaiting trial on 28 state charges that include money laundering and racketeering.

The 66-year-old Democrat was a former majority floor leader who served in the state House from 1995 until her resignation in July 2021. She was fired by the Albuquerque school district that same year.

As coordinator for Albuquerque Public Schools' career and technical education program, the New Mexican said Williams Stapleton was in charge of administering public funds including federal funds for career training.

The federal indictment states that from about 2013 to 2021, she approved payments of invoices totaling about $3.2 million to the contractor with the school district's payments mailed to a post office box in Albuquerque.