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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Finance Authority on Friday fired its top executive who had been on leave with pay since last month because of a scandal over a fake financial audit.
The authority's governing board made the decision to terminate CEO Rick May after members met in a closed-door session. There was no discussion by the board before it voted in a public meeting and only one member, Bill Fulginiti of the New Mexico Municipal League, opposed the firing, which was effective immediately.
May joined the authority last year after serving as Gov. Susana Martinez's cabinet secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration. He was paid $150,000 a year as CEO.
Since he was placed on leave, the authority has hired a former state budget director, John Gasparich, to serve as interim CEO through at least early next year as the agency copes with fallout from the forged audit.
May's firing came a week after a grand jury indicted the authority's former controller, Greg Campbell, on charges of securities fraud and forgery for his role in falsifying financial statements to make them appear they had been audited by an outside accounting firm. The audit materials also were made available to investors.
May did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on his firing.
He sent a letter to the board earlier this month urging it to delay any decision on his job, and he threatened possible legal action to "preserve and protect my longstanding reputation for honesty and integrity."
There's been no public disclosure that suggests any wrongdoing by May, and he has repeated blamed Campbell for the audit problems, describing him as a "rogue employee."
The Finance Authority provides low-cost financing for capital projects by cities, counties, schools and other New Mexico governmental organizations. It operates independently from any state agency and functions like a bank for governmental infrastructure.
A forensic audit is under way to determine how the fake audit occurred, whether any money is missing and why it wasn't detected until July after the state auditor's office questioned why the authority's 2011 audit was late.
Campbell has acknowledged in statements to the news media that he faked the audit earlier this year but has said he didn't steal any money.
Follow Barry Massey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bmasseyAP