SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A politically connected financial broker at the heart of a state investment scandal paid nearly $329,000 to New Mexico on Monday to resolve a state tax-evasion case.
Broker Marc Correra pleaded no contest to one count of tax evasion.
Correra was a key figure in allegations that New Mexico investments were steered to political supporters of former Gov. Bill Richardson. No charges involving the investment deals have been filed, however, despite a federal investigation. Correra and others have maintained there was no wrongdoing.
During a hearing in state district court in Santa Fe, Correra was placed on unsupervised probation for three months. He avoids jail time, which could have been up to five years had he been convicted.
Correra earned $5.5 million in 2009, but he paid no state personal income taxes, according to the Taxation and Revenue Department.
State records indicate that Correra shared in more than $20 million in fees for helping money-management firms win investment business with the State Investment Council and a state educational pension from 2003 to 2008.
The precise amount Correra received remains unclear because the agencies say they do not know in some instances how fees were split among Correra and other brokers.
The Investment Council, which manages state endowment funds valued at about $18 billion, has sued its former top manager, a financial advisory firm, Correra, his father, Anthony Correra, and others seeking damages for what the agency contended was a pay-to-play scheme that improperly influenced investment decisions.
Anthony Correra was a friend and political supporter of Richardson, a Democrat who was governor from 2003 to 2010.
At the court hearing, the state received a cashier’s check from Correra for $267,916 in taxes for 2009, $26,791 in penalties and $34,190 in interest.
Correra initially maintained he owed no taxes because he didn’t live in New Mexico long enough that year to be subject to taxation, according to prosecutors.
But prosecutors found an affidavit in a Texas divorce case that indicated Correra had lived in New Mexico until September 2009, when he moved to Paris. People are subject to New Mexico taxes if they reside in the state for at least 185 days during a year.
Under the plea agreement, Correra will receive a “conditional discharge” that wipes out the felony tax charge if he completes his probation with no problems.