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Ex-University of New Mexico athletic director Shahana acquitted of embezzlement charges in golf trip case

Former University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs has been found not guilty of embezzlement charges stemming from allegations that he used public money to pay for a lavish golf trip he said was intended to strengthen relationships with donors.

The verdict was handed down shortly after 10:30 a.m. Friday after a trial in state district court. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican News, Krebs lifted his head in relief as the verdict was read.

“We believe justice has been served. It was a long, slow process, but we’re glad it’s over,” Krebs’ attorney Paul Kennedy told The Associated Press in a brief phone call after the verdict. “He is a good man, and it is the right decision to acquit him.”

Krebs left the university in 2017 amid questions about the spending and was later indicted by a grand jury on multiple charges. Weeks before trial, prosecutors dropped all but two embezzlement counts after reviewing the case.

State Attorney General Raul Torres said in a statement that his office was disappointed by the jury’s decision.

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“Despite today’s decision,” the statement said, “the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office remains committed to protecting the public interest and ensuring that public leaders hold themselves to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.”

Kennedy told jurors at the start of the trial that Krebs did not commit a crime because he did not receive any financial benefit from the 2015 trip to Scotland.

Former University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs has been acquitted of embezzlement charges for allegedly misusing public funds for a golf trip to promote donor relations.

On Thursday, before the case went to a jury, Krebs took the stand and fielded questions about prosecutors’ lack of knowledge of university policies and his response to media reports about international travel, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

Krebs, 66, was accused of using university and Lobo Club funds to help pay for the trip, which included himself and family members, several potential donors, and former UNM men’s basketball coach Craig Neal. The Lobo Club is a nonprofit fundraising organization that supports student-athletes.

At the time he announced his retirement in 2017, Krebs was the longest-tenured athletic director in Mountain West Conference history. He was hired by UNM in 2006.

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Prosecutors allege the athletics department paid nearly $24,500 for golf tours for three people not affiliated with the university or the UNM Association. They also claim that Krebs used $13,625 in university funds to pay for a golf tour package to the Lobo Club while Lobo Club funds were used to pay a travel company.

Several witnesses called to the stand explained how the Lobo Club operated and described the inner workings of the accounting procedures for transferring money between university departments.

During the trial, Judge Cindy Lewis halted the proceedings after finding that at least one television station had violated the order by live streaming while the court was in session. He ordered the cameras of local television outlets to be removed from the courtroom.

Lewis issued an order before the trial that set guidelines for media outlets given the interest in the case.

Source by [Fox News]



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