ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man recently convicted of conspiring to steal money intended for voter education efforts was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.
U.S. District Judge William Johnson also ordered Joseph Kupfer, of Rio Rancho, to join his co-defendants in paying more than $1 million in restitution to the state and the Internal Revenue Service.
“The sentence imposed on Joseph Kupfer concludes the prosecution of an important case that sends a powerful message to those who do business with the government: We will aggressively investigate and vigorously prosecute those who steal federal funds and dodge their civic obligation to pay their rightful share of taxes,” said acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough.
Kupfer, 50, and Armando C. Gutierrez, 65, of Corpus Christi, Texas, were found guilty in January.
Prosecutors said the two consultants conspired to get more money than they were due out of New Mexico’s $19 million share of Help America Vote Act funds. The indictment charged $2.5 million in fraud.
Gutierrez was sentenced last month to 10 years in federal prison. He must also pay restitution and forfeit his interest in his Corpus Christi home.
At the time of the indictment, prosecutors said Kupfer, a former lobbyist, and Gutierrez were consultants to New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil. She left office in 2006.
The charges stemmed from $6 million in contracts that Vigil-Giron negotiated with Gutierrez to produce commercials using federal money from the Help America Vote Act. Kupfer was a consultant to Gutierrez.
State criminal charges against Vigil were dismissed last year after a judge ruled delays in the case had impaired her defense.
Kupfer and his wife, Elizabeth Kupfer, were also found guilty last year of tax evasion. The couple were convicted of failing to report at least $768,000 in income they received from Joseph Kupfer’s consulting business.
Elizabeth Kupfer, 50, was sentenced in May to three years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for her conviction.