Posted at: 04/10/2013 9:58 PM
Updated at: 04/10/2013 10:14 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Photo: Joy Ansley
Despite the fact that the Torrance County Manager is criminally charged with fraud and conspiracy, the County Commission decided Wednesday to keep Manager Joy Ansley on the job maintaining the county budget.
In previous interviews with KOB 4 On Your Side, Ansley has maintained her innocence. But the NM Attorney General’s Office charged her with ten felony charges of fraud and conspiracy. The allegations center around an alleged bid-rigging scheme for county construction contracts. Investigators allege that Ansley funneled thousands of dollars into the pockets of vendor Chris Valdez through a series of change orders and illegitimate bids for various construction projects around the county.
Torrance County Commissioners met in a closed meeting to discuss the status of Ansley’s employment. During an open meeting, the commissioners announced they would take no action on the issue, meaning Ansley would stay in her position without any changes.
“Why have you kept her on as a county manager even though she's accused of these crimes of defrauding the county?” KOB 4 On Your Side Reporter Chris Ramirez asked.
“Until she is proven guilty in a court of law, that is the only thing we can do according to the Constitution of the United States of America," said Commissioner Leroy Candelaria said.
According to Candelaria, Ansley has been on vacation, but will return to her duties on Monday.
"I'm abiding by the Constitution,” Candelaria said. “I fought for that right.”
“What about abiding by the people who elected you? And those who may be worried about tax dollars being misspent in this county. Do you worry about them?” Ramirez asked.
“When it's proven that she is guilty we'll deal with that, but right now it's an allegation."
Torrance County residents at the meeting said they worry about the future of public funds with Ansley still on the job.
It’s true. So far, Ansley hasn’t been found guilty of any crimes; it’s too soon in the process to know.
"They should be protecting the public first before they protect a staff member," said resident George Hewitt.
State Auditor Hector Balderas is expected to release audit findings in the upcoming weeks regarding the alleged bid-rigging scheme. Ansley is scheduled to appear in court to enter a plea on the charges in early May.