Posted 1/23/11 : Law enforcement officer resigned after selling off county property to fund online gambling
Sante Fe County has a new sheriff following the departure of former incumbent Greg Solano, who appeared in court this week charged with 251 counts of embezzlement and one of fraud arising from the sales of county property on eBay.
Solano used his ill-gotten gains to fund his predilection for gambling both online and on land, according to local television station KOAT.
The former sheriff was exposed last year following an investigation by New Mexico State Police that lasted over four months. Agents from the state Investigations Bureau said they learned that Greg Solano was selling Santa Fe County property, including bullet-proof vests and other police equipment, through eBay.
When confronted, Solano admitted his involvement, cooperated with investigators and pleaded economic hardship, although it has since transpired that he spent $96 000 of his criminal proceeds on gambling at online casino sites and several land-based casinos.
Prosecutors said the former sheriff spent more than $96,000 on gambling, mostly at Santa Ana casino in Bernalillo as well Buffalo Thunder and Sandia. Solano also made trips to Las Vegas and Reno, and made online gambling transactions ranging from $40 to $300 at a time between the auction sales, prosecutors said.
“I just want to say I'm really sorry and I'm going to do what's right. I'm going to make things better and get through this,” Solano said. If convicted, he faces up to 250 years behind bars.
After being confronted with his behaviour last year, Solano resigned, saying in a statement: "This was wrong, illegal, unethical and dishonest. It is with a heavy heart and great shame that I release this statement today. I have done some things that I should not have done and am ready to come clean and face the consequences.
"Like many Americans I have been caught up in a high mortgage, with high interest rates and was having a very hard time paying my mortgage and the bills that come with it," Solano said. "It has been very hard to live the last few years trying to be what is expected as an elected official and to be battling my financial problems….This is not an excuse. What I did was wrong and cannot be justified. "