SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico's former state tax chief has pleaded not guilty to seven corruption counts, including a charge that she embezzled money from a former client.
Former New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla entered the plea Thursday. A state district judge in Santa Fe then set her trial to begin in May.
Padilla is accused of embezzling more than $25,000 from one of her accounting clients, Harold's Grading and Trucking near Bernalillo.
Padilla faces a felony embezzlement count as well as a charge of performing an official act for private gain (interfering in an audit of that client), which also is a felony. The remaining five counts are misdemeanors. They allege Padilla violated state ethics rules.
Padilla could face up to 16 years in prison and as much as $20,000 in fines if convicted of all seven charges.
This story corrects a previous version to say Demesia Padilla is New Mexico's former state tax chief.