NATIONAL BRIEFING / NEW MEXICO

Times Wire Reports

New Mexico's top federal prosecutor confirmed that no charges would be brought against Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson and his former top aides after an investigation of an alleged pay-to-play scheme prompted him to withdraw his nomination as U.S. Commerce secretary.

But U.S. Atty. Greg Fouratt said the decision not to bring charges was "not to be interpreted as an exoneration of any party's conduct."

In a letter sent to defense attorneys, Fouratt said a yearlong federal investigation "revealed that pressure from the governor's office resulted in the corruption of the procurement process" so that state bond deal work went to a Richardson political donor in 2004.

Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said in a statement that Fouratt's letter "is wrong on the facts and appears to be nothing more than sour grapes."

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