Without explicitly seeking leniency for former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce has penned a letter on Duran’s behalf to the judge who will sentence her next week.
“I ask you to take into consideration the steadfast conviction Mrs. Duran has shown throughout her career as a public servant to the people of New Mexico,” Pearce wrote. He added that Duran has “time and again shown a commitment to the betterment of the lives of her fellow New Mexicans.”
“I ask that you give Mrs. Duran your every consideration in light of the many contributions she has made to the State of New Mexico,” Pearce wrote.
Duran and Pearce, both Republicans, served together in the New Mexico Legislature, he as a House member and she as a senator. Pearce’s letter was first posted online by The Santa Fe New Mexican.
Duran resigned from office in October and pleaded guilty to two felonies related to abusing the state’s campaign finance reporting system. Though Duran’s resignation is final, her criminal case may not be entirely settled.
Duran, who is trying to avoid prison time, has the option to withdraw her guilty plea at her Dec. 14 sentencing hearing if District Judge T. Glenn Ellington attempts to incarcerate her.
Though the Attorney General’s Office and Duran’s attorney have agreed to a deal that includes no prison time, Ellington will decide whether to approve the agreement.
Duran was using campaign funds to keep her personal bank account in the black while gambling at several casinos in New Mexico. Prosecutors accused her of depositing some checks intended to be campaign contributions into her personal account and never disclosing them as political donations. In other instances the AG’s office accused Duran of taking money out of her campaign account and depositing it into her personal account.
In all, Duran was accused of misusing about $10,000 in campaign funds.
In her own court filing asking for no prison time, Duran states that she begged God to “relieve me from the extraordinary burden and shame of a growing dependence on gaming.”