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Judge Charged in New Mexico Political Bribe Scandal

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 26, 2011 1:10 PM

Though allegations of political misconduct have been floating around the state for quite some time, prosecutors have only just charged state Judge Mike Murphy in the ever-present New Mexico political bribe scandal.

Indicted on four felony counts, the judge is accused of telling an attorney that she must make large donations to then-Governor Bill Richardson and the Democratic Party if she wished to be appointed to the bench.

According to the indictment, in 2007, Judge Mike Murphy allegedly told a fellow judge that, if a person wanted to be selected for a judicial position, that person needed to make a donation to Governor Bill Richardson, reports the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Not only did he allegedly make a $4,000 donation himself, he reportedly reiterated this statement to a female attorney who sought his advice about seeking appointment to a vacant judgeship.

On Friday, he pled "not guilty" to four felony counts: demanding or receiving a bribe; bribery of a public officer; bribing, intimidating or retaliating against a witness; and criminal solicitation.

As in most states, in New Mexico, it's a felony to bribe a public officer or public employee, and for public officers or public employees to receive bribes. This includes demanding, receiving, giving, or offering to give, directly or indirectly, anything of value with the intent to influence or be influenced.

Criminal solicitation occurs when a person requests, commands, induces, promotes or attempts to facilitate another person to engage in conduct constituting a felony, such as political bribery.

Even though the focus is currently on Judge Michael Murphy, the New Mexico political bribe scandal is likely to raise questions about the involvement of former Governor Bill Richardson, who had been the subject of a federal political corruption investigation for the last few years.

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