Bribery case linked to ex-NM gov back in court

JUAN CARLOS LLORCA
Associated Press

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A retired judge accused of funneling bribes to former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson pleaded no contest Thursday to misdemeanor misconduct under a plea agreement that dismisses four felony charges.

The deal for the 67-year-old Michael Murphy marks the end of a high-profile case that shocked the judiciary two years ago when prosecutors implied the bribes were part of a long-running practice for picking judges in southern New Mexico.

Under the deal, Murphy was given a 364-day suspended jail sentence, ordered to do 250 hours of community service and is barred from ever again holding public office or entering the state district court building in Las Cruces.

Murphy's indictment followed one of a string of investigations into alleged pay-to-play activities with ties to Richardson over the past five years.

It was the only case that resulted in criminal charges. Richardson has called the allegations "outrageous and defamatory."