Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano, whose investigation into Advantage has been joined by State Attorney General Gary King’s office, tells SFR that’s not true.
“Even though Matt Ortiz is accusing me of grandstanding, I haven’t issued a single press release,” Solano says. “From day one on that case, there have been a ton of leaks.”
Such leaks could come from anywhere. A review of the record shows Advantage’s owner, Joe Anthony Montoya, has made plenty of enemies over the years. But he’s also made plenty of well-placed friends, beginning even before he was a wealthy donor to the political campaigns of city, county and state officials.
Montoya was president of the city workers’ union, AFSCME Local 3999, in the middle and late 1990s. During that time, Debbie Jaramillo was mayor, and her brother, Isaac J “Ike” Pino, was city manager.
In 1997, Montoya emailed city workers asking them to support Jaramillo’s campaign, according to The Santa Fe New Mexican archives. That year, Montoya also negotiated a city labor contract that gave himself and other union officials additional pay increases.
City councilors fired Pino in 1998, when Jaramillo left office. Montoya stuck with the city for a couple more years, and founded Advantage Asphalt & Seal Coating in 2000, according to records filed with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.
After leaving the city, Pino began to work for the developers of Rancho Viejo, the sprawling subdivision near Santa Fe Community College. Montoya’s company, Advantage Asphalt, was a key contractor at the development. The site’s current owner, SunCor, is in legal arbitration over Advantage’s work there; other Advantage clients, including the developers of the High Summit subdivision, have also sued Montoya’s company over substandard work. (Advantage has been on the other side of lawsuits, too. Last year, Ortiz helped Advantage sue the town of Bloomfield, outside Farmington, for non-payment.)
Today, Pino lives in a $900,000 home at Rancho Viejo’s Windmill Ridge, a short drive from Montoya’s $1 million home in the same development. Pino tells SFR that he served as his own general contractor in building the home, and hired Advantage to do his driveway.
Pino is back working for the city as public works director. He disclaims any favoritism was shown toward Montoya in his company’s receipt of city contracts.
“I talk to him periodically,” Pino says. “I’ve known Anthony for many years. I ask how his family is doing. I specifically try not to talk about these sorts of things [the corruption investigation]. I figure if he wants to talk about it, he’ll let me know.”
Montoya did not return an in-person message left at Advantage Asphalt’s Rancho Viejo office with employees, who asked SFR to write some good news about the company. Asked to supply some, Advantage Senior Superintendant Martin Montoya shrugged.
As the corruption investigation continues, it may rope in more of Montoya’s past associates. To assemble a rough map of Montoya’s holdings, SFR scoured state corporation records, county property records, city contracts and court documents. We probably missed some things but, based on what we found, it’s clear that Montoya, a former city worker, in less than a decade, built a small business empire with millions of dollars in property and public sector contracts.
A&M Bobcat RentalFormed: March 2008
Directors: Joe Anthony, Marlene and Nicholas Montoya
Montoya’s second business, located at the same address as Advantage Asphalt, rents equipment made by Bobcat, such as excavators and front-end loaders.
Advantage Asphalt & Seal CoatingFormed: April 2000
Directors: Joe Anthony Montoya and Thomas E Gonzales
Status: active (but troubled)
As of last year, Montoya’s chief business held $2 million in state contracts, at least $3.5 million in City of Santa Fe contracts and approximately $7 million in Santa Fe County contracts. The sheriff’s investigation has focused only on the latter.
Advantage and Bobcat share a space as one of the few tenants in Rancho Viejo’s small office complex at 55 Canada Del Rancho.
Advantage Total ConstructionFormed: January 2008
Directors: Joe Anthony and Marlene Montoya
It’s unclear why this corporation was formed, but county building permits and court documents show Montoya’s “asphalt” business had outgrown its name, and was performing all manner of home construction and public works projects.
Link Services LLCFormed: December 2007
Directors: Marlene Montoya and Marcia Sanchez
It’s unclear what this company, formed by Montoya’s wife, sells. Its registered address is a postal box.
Kassandra’s Racing Team LLCFormed: February 2008
Directors: Joe Anthony Montoya and Advantage employee Uriel Alvarez
Status: active (and on a roll)
Montoya’s racing horses have been tearing it up at tracks across the state. SFR reported that his 3-year-old colt, Streakin Six Corona, won a long-odds race last July 4 at SunRay Park and Casino in Farmington. Earlier this month, a Montoya-owned mare, Pair of Boots, took first at Ruidoso Downs, in a $6,000 race.
PROPERTIESJoe Anthony Montoya:
41-A W. Saddleback Mesa
Assessed value: $971,000
The blinds were pulled and the lights were off when SFR visited Montoya’s sizable home in the Windmill Ridge section of Rancho Viejo. It’s the closest lot to the neighborhood’s namesake windmill.
41-E W. Saddleback Mesa
Assessed value: $205,000
This lot is listed in Santa Fe County property records, but SFR couldn’t find a structure with this address on a recent visit to Rancho Viejo.
51-B N. Estrellas Road
Business (Advantage Asphalt, A&M Bobcat Rental)
Assessed value: $104,000
This Montoya property was recently the subject of a code-enforcement complaint, to Santa Fe County, regarding a large new structure that initially lacked a permit [News, June 16: “Broken Code 2”].
Assessed value: $105,000
Santa Fe County property records show Advantage Asphalt owns this modest residential property and, until recently, held title to several other new homes in the La Pradera development near Rancho Viejo.
A few are now held by La Pradera Associates LLC, a company registered to an attorney who advised the development, Rosanna C Vazquez. Earlier this year, La Pradera representatives approached Santa Fe County commissioners to propose the county buy and then resell Advantage-built homes there, where, as in Rancho Viejo, many new homes stand vacant long after construction.