Former Miss New Mexico leader accused of embezzlement

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New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The former executive director of the Miss New Mexico pageant is now facing criminal charges, accused of stealing from former pageant contestants.

Greg Smith has been indicted on 18 counts including fraud, tax evasion, racketeering and issuing bad checks.

Smith has been under investigation by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office for the last year after former pageant participants claimed Smith wasn’t handing over scholarship funds participants were promised.

2016 Miss New Mexico pageant winner Stephanie Chavez is among the alleged victims named in an indictment filed in Roosevelt County District Court Thursday.

“I feel very relieved with what we’ve found and I hope that Mr. Smith is held accountable for his actions,” said Chavez.

A rancher, Smith ran the Miss New Mexico pageant for three years, between 2015 and 2018. According to a grand jury indictment, investigators believe Smith stole more than $10,000 from pageant contestants.

“The executive director withheld that scholarship money, and then personally spent that on ridiculous items,” said Hector Balderas, attorney general for the state of New Mexico.

Balderas says investigators believe some of the withheld funds were used on ranching related business expenses.

“He was a bull breeder, and he used some of this money even on bull semen,” said Balderas.

Chavez went to the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office to report Smith after she says no one listened to her about her concerns over withheld scholarship funds.

“This organization kind of prides itself on giving women their voice, and it’s ironic that I was kind of silenced when I came out and spoke out about this,” said Chavez.

According to court documents, Smith deceived pageant contestants, embezzled scholarship money owed to participants, and even misrepresented lodging prices to some of the pageant girls.

Balderas says the case should be a wake-up call to leadership organizations who handle large amounts of money.

“All types of student activity organizations in New Mexico, they need more oversight, and when they speak out, all of our communities must really listen and intervene sooner,” said Balderas.

A judge has yet to issue a warrant for Smith’s arrest.