Former Sunland Park Mayor-Elect Daniel Salinas was arrested for the third time Friday afternoon after 18 new charges were presented against him. The charges range from fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, receiving and soliciting kickbacks and making or permitting false public vouchers among other things. “They’re going over to Mexico having parties, patronizing prostitutes, drinking, using fake vouchers to get the city to pay the company back,” said Dona Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando.
According to court documents, Daniel Salinas had arranged a “pyramid scheme” with Jorge Angulo who manages Envirosystems. The company was contracted to look into the impact of a new border crossing and had just received a $2.4 million contract from the City of Sunland Park. The documents allege Angulo paid for expenses on a November 2011 trip to a border conference in Saltillo Mexico. Angulo would then bill the city through his company. Family friend Iris Valdivilla said the investigation wasn’t properly handled. Valdivilla still hopes Salinas will have all the charges against him dropped in the end.
“I don’t believe anything that they said and i trust him,” Valdivilla said. “All I can say is to hang in there and his name will be cleared.” Salinas’s is bond is set at $1 million with 75 percent cash to the court. Orlando said the bond was set that high because Salinas is considered a flight risk.
Town leaders were scrambling to find a mayor on Sunday because their mayor-elect is banned from City Hall and accused of a litany of crimes — from trying to extort an opponent to billing the town for prostitutes and strippers during a border conference last year in Mexico. Daniel Salinas, 28, was hoping to be sworn in by the Thursday deadline last week but already was facing earlier charges of extortion and bribery after allegedly trying to blackmail his opponent with a tape showing him receiving a lap dance from a topless stripper, said Dona Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando.
As for who will be the city’s mayor, council officials are working with the secretary of state to determine what procedures to follow, Orlando said. Salinas has so far been indicted on the extortion charge and is pending grand jury on the bribery charges, in addition to Friday’s charges that will move through the system this week.
Good thing they caught this shady character before any other crazy shenanigans started. Electing a 28-year-old as mayor might not have been the best idea anyway.