Indictment dismissed in NM judicial bribery case

AP News
Posted: Sep 23, 2011 9:19 PM
Indictment dismissed in NM judicial bribery case

A judge Friday dismissed charges against a Las Cruces judge accused in a pay-to-play scandal with ties to former Gov. Bill Richardson.

The order from Judge Leslie Smith was sealed, so it was unclear which defense motion to throw out the felony indictment against state District Judge Michael Murphy was granted or why.

But Smith did say he was granting one of the motions to dismiss the indictment without prejudice, leaving the door open for special prosecutor Matt Chandler to refile charges in the case.

Smith also dismissed a misdemeanor ethics charge that was filed against Murphy after the indictment.

Murphy was indicted in May on four counts of bribery, criminal solicitation and intimidation. He was accused of telling a potential judicial candidate she needed to make payments to Democratic activist Edgar Lopez if she wanted to be considered for a seat on the bench in 2007.

Allegations in a report released by Chandler after Murphy's indictment implied the practice was common in the district and that the payments were funneled to Richardson.

Richardson has called the accusations "outrageous and defamatory." Lopez called them "absurd."