Prosecutors with New Mexico's US Attorney's Office are asking a federal judge to sentence Gov. Susana Martinez' former campaign manager to prison.
In July, Jamie Estrada pleaded guilty to one felony for intercepting an email sent to Martinez' campaign account and another felony for lying to the FBI about his role in accessing the campaign's domain and intercepting emails sent to its accounts for a year.
Prosecutors are asking US District Court Judge William Johnson to sentence Estrada at the "higher end" of the sentencing range in his plea agreement with the government. Under that agreement, Johnson can impose a maximum sentence of a year and day in prison.
Sentencing Estrada to the higher end of that range, prosecutors argue, would "best reflect the seriousness of his crimes, promote respect for the law, and be a fair and just punishment in this case."
Estrada's "carefully orchestrated actions in covertly diverting or stealing other peoples' emails for nearly a year, arranging for the release of the stolen emails to Governor Martinez's political opponents so that they could maximize any perceived damage to individuals he viewed as adversaries," argue prosecutors, "and then lying to the FBI about his involvement in stealing the emails, are not the actions of a man of loyalty, honor, integrity or trustworthiness."
Estrada filed his own sentencing memorandum that asked the judge for probation, citing his character, public service and role in caring for sick family members. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 8.
But federal prosecutors are asking for a tougher sentence against Estrada, who they say "arranged to spy electronically upon his former boss and colleagues..." Prosecutors allege Estrada "harbored resentment against" Martinez for not appointing him to a post in the Martinez administration and "decided to hijack all the campaign email accounts" of Martinez' staffers when he was contacted about the domain password in the summer of 2011, when the domain was set to expire.
Estrada worked for Martinez' campaign briefly before leaving in December 2009 to run for a seat on the Public Regulation Commission. Martinez says she fired him while Estrada disputes that claim. By the summer of 2011, he was apparently the only official from Martinez' 2010 campaign with the password that controlled the campaign domain, despite his falling out with Martinez.
Using that password, prosecutors say, Estrada took control of the domain, intercepted hundreds of email messages and gave them to Martinez' political opponents "knowing that they would be disseminated."
SFR was among the media outlets that published the emails. Some included private information like bank account statements and receipts for Martinez' personal shopping. But the majority of the emails obtained by SFR revealed Martinez and her staffers conducting state business in the shadows of a private email network, such as communications between a lobbyist for the Downs of Albuquerque Racetrack and Casino, which was bidding with the state for a 25-year contract, and Martinez staffers. Her administration eventually awarded the contract to the company, allowing it to expand gambling operations on State Fair land.
Prosecutors point to a year and day sentence leveled against David Kernell, a University of Tennessee student who "hacked into former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's email account during the 2008 presidential campaign."
Prosecutors say Estrada's "more advanced age, his education and professional experience, his prior position of trust in Governor Martinez's campaign, the manner in which he hijacked the email accounts, the length of time in which he maintained control of the email accounts, and the fact that he gave the stolen emails to political operatives to assure the emails would be released, all point to even more blameworthy conduct than that in which Defendant Kernell engaged."
US Sentencing Memo Jamie Estrada With Exhibits by justinhorwath