Sunland Park City Officials Appear In Court In Extortion Case


POSTED: Monday, February 27, 2012 - 6:36pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 10:02am

The Sunland Park mayor pro-tem and the city manager are charged with extortion and tampering with evidence.

They made their first court appearance Monday.

Mayor Pro-Tem Daniel Salinas and City Manager Jaime Aguilera appeared in court Monday wearing orange jumpsuits, sandals, handcuffs and shackles.

They're being held in the Doña Ana County Detention Center on $50,000 bond.

The defense argued for a lower bond saying neither man can afford it but the judge disagreed, and so does the district attorney.

"The potential flight risk for both of them of going into Mexico and fleeing," said Doña Ana County District Attorney, Amy Orlando. "Safety, dangerous to the community and a flight risk.

State police arrested both suspects Saturday night.

Salinas is a mayoral candidate in the city's March 6th election.

The charges stem from a sex tape released last week showing his mayoral opponent Gerardo Hernandez engaging in sex acts with an unknown female.

Authorities believe Salinas and Aguilera blackmailed Hernandez with the tape and told him it would go public if Hernandez didn't drop out of the race.

We spoke to a city rep who supports Salinas.

"I will be in a supporter for Salinas until the charges are proven,” Christian Lira said. “We have no evidence there's really no evidence on him so we will support him in the campaign."

The Sunland Park city clerk said Salinas is staying on the ballot for the March election.

"If he was to win on March 6th, and convicted, then the city would have to hold a special election,” said City Clerk Liz Gamez.

Two other city employees Human Resource employee Martah Lozano, and Sunland Park City Works Director Jesus Dario Hernandez, face charges related to the case.

"We have evidence that would show that they helped to get rid of the discs," Orlando said.

The district attorney said she's getting calls from people offering new information about the case.

"We will take your statement,” Orlando said. “It's the right thing to do to make sure that people don't keep getting away with corruption."

Orlando also said more charges could be coming against Salinas and Aguilera and she said more people may become targets for arrest.

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I hate to see politics turning people into something they would normally not do just because they want to win. Dirty politics has become a way of life for some candidates who will stoop down to anything. Salinas could have won it on his own, but now look at what he has created for himself. Thank you Cathy, for letting us know what the court decided on reducing the bond for these two men. Maybe staying in jail will make them think twice before trying to blackmail someone.

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