A New Mexico man who once worked as a court-appointed guardian has been sentenced to serve six years in a federal corrections facility. The man learned of his fate on June 6 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. During the sentencing hearing, the judge rejected a defense plea to sentence the man to one year of home confinement followed by three years of supervised release. U.S. attorneys had called for a 15-year custodial sentence. The man entered guilty pleas to two conspiracy counts in November 2019.

The judge felt that a harsh sentence was warranted because many of the man’s victims were among New Mexico’s most vulnerable residents. The Albuquerque-based social services company that the man worked for and sat on the board of shut its doors in 2017 when news of the scandal broke. Federal prosecutors said that about 1,000 people were bilked out of more than $10 million during an embezzlement scheme that lasted for years.

The man is said to have used money entrusted to him by his clients to pay for a lavish lifestyle that included luxury homes, expensive automobiles, extravagant meals, and casino gambling. The man admits to using a company credit card to pay his personal bills, but he says that he had no idea he was taking client funds. Before the sentence was handed down, the man told the judge that he hoped to repay at least some of the money when he is released from prison.

The penalties in white-collar crime cases tend to be severe when the defendant and his or her victims had a fiduciary relationship. In these situations, experienced criminal defense attorneys may strive to secure a more lenient sentence by bringing mitigating factors, such as genuine remorse and a sincere desire to make restitution, to the attention of the prosecution and the sentencing judge.