Former New Mexico mayor smuggles guns, keeps taxpayer-funded pension

A conviction for gun smuggling isn’t stopping a former Columbus, N.M., mayor from getting nearly $17,000 a year in taxpayer-funded pension money, New Mexico Watchdog has learned.

The former mayor, Eddie Espinoza, was released from federal prison in late November three years early from a four-year sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy, trafficking in firearms and making false statements while purchasing firearms. Because Espinoza held a job with the state of New Mexico, he gets $1,387.89 each month from the Public Employees Retirement Association.

“As a defined benefit plan, PERA will pay this monthly amount for the retiree’s lifetime,” Susan Pittard, chief of staff-general counsel at PERA, said in an email Tuesday to New Mexico Watchdog.

Pittard said confidentiality statutes forbid PERA from disclosing what Espinoza did with the state and for how long.

Efforts by New Mexico Watchdog to contact Espinoza were unsuccessful.

So how does a convicted felon keep his taxpayer-funded pension?

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