The past two weeks have been very productive for the New Mexico Attorney General's Office. The government corruption case involving Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block, Jr. was a successful prosecution by the AGO's Government Accountability Division and a resolution in the best interests of justice and the general public.
As always, not everyone is satisfied with the end results. We have heard from a few who think Jerome Block, Jr. should have faced a firing squad or that the Attorney General be flogged for going "too easy" on the defendant. And as usual, these sanguinary-minded few are lacking the basic facts.
Perhaps everyone can benefit from the rest of the story in this case and maybe, just maybe...gain a better understanding of what has taken place in the Jerome Block, Jr. case.
First, the state legislature appropriated one million dollars during the just concluded Special Session for the express purpose of impeaching the commissioner...one million of yours and my tax dollars, the majority of that sum would have gone to the Special Prosecutor as legal fees. That is a fact...not an assertion.
Secondly, Jerome Block, Jr. plead guilty to about eight thousand dollars in improper state credit card usage. If you or I had committed the same crime it is highly unlikely we would serve prison time if we also agreed to pay the money back like he has. He was treated no differently than any other person who committed the same crimes.
Let me further break it down and repeat some of the penalties Block now faces.
1. He will resign from office, savings to taxpayers $90,000/yr.
2. He can never again hold any public office.
3. He pleaded guilty to multiple felonies.
4. He is required to successfully complete rehab and drug court for his substance abuse problems.
5. He must repay between 8-10 thousand dollars involved in the state credit card offense.
6. His impeachment trial is now moot, savings to taxpayers about a $1,000,000.
And yes, charges against his father Block, Sr. will be dropped in relation to the misuse of campaign finance money from several years back...why? Because Jerome Block, Jr. took responsibility for committing the crime.
Here is one more fact...Jerome Block, Jr. is a first time offender. I think any reasonable person would agree that this was the best possible outcome for the state of New Mexico and for the cause of justice. Unfortunately, some folks still subscribe to the theory that facts should not get in the way of a story.