There may be a simple explanation for some deposits a former state cabinet secretary made into her personal bank account that are under scrutiny by the Attorney General’s Office.
QC Holdings Incorporated, a payday lending company, made the payments to former Taxation and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla to rent commercial space she owns, a lawyer for the Kansas-based company was quoted by The Santa Fe New Mexican as saying.
“All the money we paid Ms. Padilla was for rent under a lease agreement. She was the landlord of one of our New Mexico branches,” the newspaper quoted the lawyer, Justin Kohlbeck, as saying.
The assertion serves as a reminder that, while Padilla is under investigation for possible crimes including tax evasion and embezzlement, she’s not been charged with or convicted of any crimes at this time.
Padilla resigned from her position in Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration on Friday after a search warrant and law-enforcement affidavit were filed, making public the details of the attorney general’s investigation of Padilla.
Investigators found that Padilla had deposited $47,753.64 into her bank account from QC Holdings in 2012 and 2013. The warrant sought tax records in part to determine whether Padilla reported that money as income and paid the applicable tax.
The assertion that QC Holdings was paying rent to Padilla contradicts what the AG’s Office had concluded. While Padilla’s 2012 and 2013 financial disclosure forms filed with the Secretary of State’s Office state that she received rental income of over $5,000 each of those years, the search warrant affidavit notes that there’s no mention of QC Holdings on those forms.
AG investigators, the affidavit states, “conducted an examination of the physical properties” occupied by QC Holdings and its subsidiaries in New Mexico, the affidavit states. “Ownership of the properties appears to be held by someone other than Demesia Padilla,” it states.
So, the AG’s office concluded, the payments weren’t the rental income Padilla referred to in her financial disclosure forms.
The AG’s Office wouldn’t comment to The New Mexican about QC Holdings’ statement that the payments were for rent for one of its branches.
QC Holdings, The New Mexican reported, has 16 branches in New Mexico, including stores in Albuquerque, Farmington, Gallup, Española, Grants, Las Cruces, and Rio Rancho. Names its stores operate under include Nationwide Budget Finance, First Payday Loans, Check Advance Loans, and Quick Cash.
Kohlbeck wouldn’t tell the newspaper which store was located in space rented from Padilla, saying the company didn’t want to comment further.
Though the payments from QC Holdings are part of the AG’s investigation, the probe is centered on Padilla’s relationship with the Albuquerque company Harold’s Grading & Trucking. Investigators are looking into whether Padilla continued working for that company after becoming tax secretary in 2011, creating a conflict; whether she pressured state employees to give the company preferential treatment during an audit; and if she embezzled from the company or committed other crimes related to payments she made to herself from the company’s bank account.