Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

The Albuquerque School District separates from Williams Stapleton

Aug 31 – The state’s largest school district fired a former state employee and lawmaker whose dual career was marred by allegations of extortion, money laundering and illegal kickbacks.

Luis Robles, an attorney for Albuquerque Public Schools, said Tuesday the district “fired” Sheryl Willams Stapleton, the once powerful House majority leader who served in the state House for over 25 years. She served as the coordinator and director of the school district’s career and technical education department.

Robles said he could not elaborate on the action as it was a personnel matter.

“She is no longer a county employee,” he said, adding that Williams Stapleton has the right to appeal the decision.

Matt Baca, a spokesman for the attorney general, said the agency’s investigation into Williams Stapleton’s actions was “still very active” and would likely close soon.

Last week the office received a search warrant for American Escrow in Albuquerque to seize personal, business and corporate records tied to Williams Stapleton’s account there.

These records include financial statements, loan agreements, notes or mortgages, credit and background investigations, and loan checks, according to an affidavit. The document states that an investigator received a digital media device with files from the American Escrow Office.

The measures against Williams Stapleton are the latest in a string of investigations that resulted in the influential lawmaker’s resignation from the House of Representatives a month ago.

Her problems began in late July when prosecutors ransacked both her Albuquerque home and her school district office.

An affidavit for this search warrant contains allegations of Williams Stapleton’s ties to what appears to be a Washington, DC based company, Robotics Management Learning Systems LLC. This company had a long-standing contract to provide web-based learning materials for Albuquerque public schools.

The story goes on

Williams Stapleton was involved in the procurement process for this business through her position in the career and technical education department, the documents say.

The search warrant affidavit alleged that she had embarked on an elaborate and lengthy plan involving her son and others. The affidavit states that she received approximately $ 953,000 from Robotics, as well as companies she owns and nonprofits in which she is involved.

The affidavit also raised concerns about possible conflicts of interest with Williams Stapleton’s position in the legislature. In addition to serving as a secondary member of the House of Representatives, Williams Stapleton has been a member of the House Education Committee since at least 2011 and an interim member of the Legislative Education Study Committee since at least 2005.

In addition to their grief, the US Attorney’s Office issued a subpoena from the US Attorney’s Office to Albuquerque Public Schools for any material pertaining to them.

Williams Stapleton was given a leave of absence from the school district after her home was searched. The district has taken leave of 11 other employees and part of its investigations.

Earlier this month, four of those employees – Harrison Middle School teachers Caia Brown, Ryan Palmer, Rebecca Campbell, and Curtis Spencer – all returned to their jobs, Robles said.

He said none of these employees were suspected of being involved in Williams Stapleton’s actions.

“In the end, these people were able to explain that they told her ‘no’, they were people who wouldn’t go along with what she did,” said Robles.

Williams Stapleton, who denied the allegations, has not been charged.

In her resignation letter, she said she would “invest a lot of time and energy in fully defending these allegations”.

Attempts to reach Williams Stapleton’s attorney, Ahmad Assed from Albuquerque, were unsuccessful on Tuesday. A member of his office said Assed was out of town all week.

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