Last year, Ana Hernandez, a notary in Albuquerque, was accused of fraudulently helping foreign nationals obtain New Mexico driver’s licenses. This year she was arrested on May 3 along with six others in connection with an alleged heroin distribution operation.
She told detectives after her arrest that she knew the men were trafficking in heroin and she had “transferred money for them in the past but did not ask any questions.”
In 2010, the state’s Tax Fraud Investigations Division accused Hernandez of signing false names onto birth certificates and using an old business address as a residential address to help 29 people obtain driver’s licenses. At times she used her name and three aliases to process and notarize the documents.
Rick Homans, who was then secretary of the state’s Taxation and Revenue Department, recommended in June 2010 that Hernandez’s state designation as a notary public be terminated immediately. It was not.
After the tax department’s investigation of Hernandez, state motor vehicle offices were instructed not to process any more driver’s license applications bearing Hernandez’s signature.
Homans wrote to then-Secretary of State Mary Herrera on June 14, 2010, to say Hernandez’s notary commission should be terminated immediately. Ten days later, Herrera responded to his letter, saying only the state’s governor has the authority to revoke a notary commission. A letter sent to then-Gov. Bill Richardson and copied to Attorney General Gary King, went unaswered. However, Richardson’s assistant, Caitlin Kelleher said on May 10, 2011 that the staffer in Richardson’s office who handled the request was told by someone in the governor’s legal department that it was “questionable” whether Richardson had the legal authority to remove Hernandez as a notary.
In New Mexico, a notary’s commission can be revoked only by a governor in certain circumstances, according to state law. One of these circumstances is committing “malfeasance” in office.
As of May 11, 2011, Hernandez’s notary commission was still on active status, Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s office said.