On July 20, 2011, the former Sheriff of Santa Fe County, New Mexico, Greg Solano, 47, pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud for selling county property on eBay and keeping the money. The property sold included everything from cell phone charges, printer cartridges and blank CDs to bulletproof vests and other police equipment. Solano faces up to eight years in prison and up to $137,000 in restitution, which includes the $64,200 the county spent to audit the sheriff's office.
Solano was originally charged with 251 counts of embezzlement and faced up to 100 years in prison. He entered a plea bargain to reduce his maximum potential sentence. However, Special Prosecutor Matt Chandler said he would ask for the maximum sentence of eight years.
"Solano was elected to protect and serve, not steal and profit," said Chandler. "In an era where public trust has become the topic of the day, I believe it is time to send a message that gross misconduct by public officials will be strictly punished, and I believe an eight-year prison sentence will send that message."
Solano, who was free on $25,000 bail, said his financial problems, including back mortgage payments, led him to embezzle. He apologized to family, friends and law enforcement officials. Solano had resigned in November 2010, near the end of his four-year term in office, after the embezzlement was discovered.
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