Former Martinez campaign staffer Jamie Estrada indicted for allegedly intercepting emails

The New Mexico US Attorney's Office has indicted Jamie Estrada, a former campaign worker for Gov. Susana Martinez, for "computer intrusion and false statement charges."

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This is a major development in the "Emailgate" scandal, in which Martinez staffers have claimed that a cache of leaked emails were actually stolen.

Estrada is a frequent contributor to New Mexico PBS' "The Line" program and works in public affairs. He joined the Martinez campaign as a campaign manager in July 2009, according to the US Attorney's office, and left the campaign in December.

The indictment alleges that, when the "susana2010.com" domain expired, Estrada bought it under a false name and used it to intercept emails sent by top Martinez staffers on their campaign accounts.

An indictment is merely an allegation of wrongdoing. Estrada remains innocent until proven guilty. An arraignment hearing has not been scheduled, according to the US Attorney's office.

Although one of SFR's recent stories relied on unnamed sources to break news about a possible investigation of a lucrative racino lease in Albuquerque, Estrada was not among those sources.

Named by both the Albuquerque Journal and New Mexico Business Weekly (Now Albuquerque Business First) as a rising star, Estrada served as a US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush in the mid-2000s. In 2010, he ran an unsuccessful bid as a Republican candidate for the Public Regulation Commission.

Estrada's legal matters means he will not be appearing as a panelist on local public television for some time, writes New Mexico PBS' Matt Grubs in an email to SFR.

Estrada released the following statement today:
While the U.S. Attorney's allegation of wrongdoing on my part is regrettable, I want to make it clear that I have not broken any laws or done anything improper.  Nor was I dismissed from my job as interim campaign manager for Governor Martinez. Everyone knows that "the best defense is a good offense."  Individuals in whom the public has placed its trust have come after me in an attempt to divert attention from their own improper actions, including the suspected Albuquerque Downs Racino bid rigging. I have every faith that not only will I be found innocent, but also that this attack on me will result in exposure of the true wrongdoers, once and for all. Governor Susana Martinez released a statement vindicating her assertions for the past year: The federal felony indictment today vindicates what I have been saying for almost a full year—that the personal and political emails of dozens of people, including my own, were hijacked, stolen, and never received by the intended recipients.
Thousands of New Mexicans are victims of identity theft and cyber crimes each year, and I hope the indictment today sends a strong message that no one deserves to have their privacy invaded.
Even in the world of politics, issues should be the subject of tough and vigorous debates, but there are clear lines that should not be crossed and committing federal felony crimes to invade the personal privacy of political opponents is one of them.
I knew the defendant to be a man of suspect character. That is why I fired him from my campaign in 2009 and why I rejected him for a position within my administration after being elected.
Unfortunately, the stolen emails were passed to Bill Richardson's former private investigator and numerous others, in order to exact the defendant's revenge on me through disseminating, and grossly misrepresenting, those emails. I am grateful for the professional work done by the FBI and the United States Attorney's office and have complete confidence that justice will be done in this case.

Michael Corwin, a Martinez critic who runs the liberal Independent Source PAC and leaked many of the emails in question to the media, released a statement of his own:

It should be noted that of the 12 emails cited in the indictment, none pertain to the public record communications between high ranking members of Governor Susana Martinez's administration and representatives of the Downs at Albuquerque during the contract procurement period. Further, none of the emails cited pertain to the public record communication between high ranking members of the Martinez Administration, including the Public Education Department, regarding the apparent misuse of public resources intended for Governor Martinez's political benefit. 
This indictment in no way minimizes the apparent illegal conduct  by Martinez and her administration as identified in the emails on which we previously reported. As any responsible person investigating and reporting on government misconduct, I will continue to protect my sources.
Here's the full release from the US Attorney. Scroll down for a copy of the indictment.

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