Father defends former director

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By David Giuliani

The public doesn’t know the truth behind the criminal case involving former West Las Vegas bilingual director Roberta Vigil, her father says, but the story is an interesting one.

On Monday, her father, Robert Gallegos, ran an advertisement in the Optic, called a “letter of thanks.” At the beginning of the letter, Gallegos thanked the community for its support of his daughter, who was found guilty of fraudulently spending public money at West.

But he said the media didn’t give the public the truth about her case.

“Someday all of the truth will come out, and it will make for very interesting reading,” Gallegos wrote.

In the summer, Vigil was sentenced to three years on probation and ordered to repay the West district nearly $14,000 in bilingual funds.

The state launched its investigation into spending in the bilingual program in 2006 after the Optic reported on how the program had spent nearly $10,000 on an invitation-only, adults-only party that spring.

The state alleged that Vigil improperly spent federal bilingual funds on the 2006 party and a similar event  a year before as well as an electronic sign in front of the high school and athletic equipment. None of those purchases furthered bilingual education, the state contended.

In a phone interview, Gallegos said his daughter had gone to the state police long before the controversy over the party surfaced to report criminal activity. She was later told by someone that she would pay for going to the authorities.

Gallegos provided no other details, saying he would have to get approval from Vigil. She didn’t return calls for comment. Her father said she reviewed the advertisement before it was published.

In his ad, Gallegos stated, “It is amazing how much information we were given about Roberta’s accusers and co-defendants. Roberta chose not to use this information during the investigation and her trial.”

“Roberta told her mother and myself that as long as we knew that she had done nothing wrong, that is really what counted. She told us, ‘God sees everything and those who tried to harm me will answer Him,’” Gallegos wrote.

Gallegos said that from the beginning, Vigil knew who the newspaper’s informants and accusers were.

“The whole thing was politically motivated,” Gallegos said.

He said it was part of an effort to unseat state Rep. Richard Vigil, D-Ribera, Roberta Vigil’s husband.

“I wonder who they will run against him in the next election because, to the relief of many concerned citizens who have inquired, Richard does plan on running for office again,” Gallegos stated. “District 70 voters should be very careful before Las Vegas becomes another Santa Fe or Taos.”

The state lawmaker didn’t return calls for comment.

Gallegos said his daughter wouldn’t appeal the outcome of her case. Doing so would mean facing another “witch hunt.” He said many friends have offered to help pay her fine, but she has declined.

In the interview, Gallegos said he wasn’t saying that his daughter did right by holding the party. But he said other districts have held similar events.

He said he has wanted to get the word out for a long time about his daughter, but he said he was advised not to go to the media while the case was pending.

“I couldn’t get any sleep. I would write a letter to the paper, but I would throw it away because I wasn’t supposed to be writing it,” he wrote in the ad. “I want to get all the facts out there before I die. The facts are there.”