A misuse of emergency funds to install hardwood flooring in a New Mexico city building last year after a small water leak has taken a new turn.
On June 27, investigators from the New Mexico Attorney General’s office raided the homes of the mayor of Las Vegas, N.M., Tonita Gurule-Giron, and Marvin Salazar, the owner of Gemini Construction, due to suspected kickbacks, price-rigging, favorable treatment and collusion related to hardwood flooring installations, as well as several other projects for the city, the Las Vegas Optic reports.
According to the report, during a bidding process for a hardwood flooring installation at the Las Vegas city hall in 2016, a former public works manager for the city claims the mayor intimidated him into getting the bid amounts prior to the close of the bidding process, after which Gemini bid $54 less than the lowest bid and was awarded the project.
The next year, in 2017, another hardwood flooring installation was initiated after a water fountain leaked onto a carpeted floor at city hall. The city, without going through standard procurement procedures, used $10,000 in emergency funds to replace the carpeting with new hardwood flooring. The project eventually ballooned to more than $94,000 when the city decided to replace additional flooring in the city hall so the hardwood floors would match.
Salazar is a former campaign manager for Gurule-Giron, according to the Albuquerque Journal.