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Home / Articles / News / Local News /  Political Plunder
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When Butch Maki got married, his old boss, Bill Richardson, was reportedly the best man.

Political Plunder

Richardson pal’s company embezzled from tribe.

July 14, 2010, 12:00 am
A top New Mexico lobbyist who is old friends with Gov. Bill Richardson has been accused of benefiting from money stolen from a tribal-owned business.

The allegations, which have not been previously reported, are laid out in criminal and civil court records, as well as federal documents [read them here].

In 1995, Walter “Butch” Maki—who’d joined the private sector a few years earlier after leaving his longtime post as district director for then-US Rep. Richardson—struck a deal with Santo Domingo Pueblo, now known as Kewa Pueblo. Kewa hired Maki’s company, Dream Catcher Consulting, to manage a Phillips 66 gas station owned by the tribe on state Route 22 near Interstate 25.

According to Department of the Interior documents, the station was highly profitable because not only did it get a $600,000 loan backed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but for a time its sales were exempt from taxes.

From 1995 through 2004, the station manager—hired and paid by Dream Catcher—was Anthony D Moya. In 1999, Moya married Maki’s daughter, Christina Maki, and the family founded a new business, Santa Fe Protective Services, which went on to land lucrative state and federal security contracts.

Moya began embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the gas station in 2003, according to a federal grand jury indictment. At least $500,000 was stolen, Kewa Gas Ltd. President Lorenzo Tafoya tells SFR; the total is unknown.

The embezzlement was discovered in 2004, after the Kewa Gas board of directors fired Dream Catcher and hired an accountant to perform a forensic audit, Tafoya says. The tribe notified federal prosecutors of Moya’s theft, Tafoya says, but an indictment wasn’t issued until 2008; Tafoya blames the delay on staffing shortage fallout from the US attorney scandal that ensued from the firing of former US Attorney David Iglesias.

Last spring, Moya pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement. On Feb. 3, 2010, US District Judge C LeRoy Hansen sentenced Moya to 18 months in prison, and ordered him to pay $166,000 in fines and restitution.

Moya admitted to diverting the tribe’s money to himself and his then-wife, Christina Maki, among others. The couple divorced in 2004.

According to a report by the DOTI Office of Inspector General, the embezzled money also benefitted SFPS, the security contractor jointly owned by Moya and Christina Maki. (State corporation records now list Butch Maki as an SFPS director; he and a company Hummer were seen on the presidential campaign trail with Richardson in 2007.)

“Moya used tribal funds to help cover Santa Fe Protective Service’s payroll, rent payments, and advertising expenses,” the DOTI report says. “These findings were not used in the criminal proceedings against Moya, however.” Why not? Tafoya says the statute of limitations had expired. Assistant US Attorney Cynthia Weisman, who prosecuted the case, did not return SFR’s message.

Tafoya doesn’t know where the stolen money ended up. “They covered the trail pretty good,” Tafoya says.

Both Kewa Gas, the tribal company and Santa Fe Protective Services have given thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates over the years. Moya was a player, as well. A month before his indictment, he gave $1,000 to the campaign of US Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM. This January, Moya’s current business, OMNI Development Corp of Santa Fe, gave $2,000 to the New Mexico Democratic Party. OMNI remains a state contractor.

Christina Maki did not return a message. Butch Maki did not return a cell phone message and email.

In March, Dream Catcher sued the tribe in First Judicial District Court for breach of contract, claiming Kewa Gas “never offered any reason” for its 2004 dismissal from the gas station.

“There was no mismanagement of the operation by Dream Catcher,” Maki says in an affidavit filed with the case. He also denies the tribe’s allegation that Moya established a “secret” bank account, and says Dream Catcher “provided financial reports whenever asked.”

Tafoya says the tribe had every right to fire Maki’s company. “I don’t know what his intent is [in suing the tribe], except to maybe rub salt in the wound that he created,” Tafoya says. First District Judge Raymond Ortiz will hear a motion to dismiss Maki’s lawsuit on Oct. 19.

A “fraction” of the money Moya embezzled has been repaid, Tafoya says. The tribe would’ve leveraged the stolen cash to build health and educational facilities, Tafoya says. Over one-third of the pueblo’s population lives under the federal poverty line.

 

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