SANTA FE, N.M. -- Outgoing Gov. Toney Anaya, who recently commuted death sentences for five inmates, Wednesday reduced the 18-year prison sentences of a former aide and a former state official.
Anaya, whose term ends at midnight, cut aide John Ramming's sentence to three years and former disaster relief official Pete Mondragon's sentence to six years, saying antagonism toward his administration may have prompted excessive punishment for the men.
Ramming and Mondragon were each sentenced on kickback, fraud, bribery and racketeering charges for steering nearly $3 million in state disaster funds to contractor Richard Rowand in exchange for $15,000 in cash and a $25,000 truck.
Anaya said the evidence at the trial implicated Mondragon more than Ramming, and Mondragon deserved a longer sentence.
'The trial was conducted in an atmosphere and climate during which time there was much antagonism toward my administration,' Anaya said. 'It would appear that extenuating circumstances may well have played a role at the sentencing stage of the proceedings.'
Anaya said the sentences were 'disproportionate and unconscionable' compared with the sentences of others involved.
Rowand pleaded guilty to second-degree racketeering and was sentenced to five years probation.
Anaya, who commuted to life the sentences of New Mexico's five death row inmates in November and pardoned a former state treasurer this month, said Ramming and Mondragon requested full pardons last week.
'It would have been politically more palatable and expedient to simply leave office without having reviewed these cases. However, once the formal request was made for a complete pardon, I felt compelled to review them, and once compelled to review them, I felt compelled to right the wrong that had been created,' he said.
Ramming and Mondragon both have appeals pending before the state Appeals Court.