By Daniel Libit
The University of New Mexico’s athletic department scandals may be costing the New Mexico taxpayer, but they’re a windfall for the state bar — or at least one member of it.
Prominent Albuquerque attorney Paul Kennedy, who is representing former Lobo men’s basketball staffer Cody Hopkins in his embezzlement trial, has now signed on to defend UNM’s ex-Athletic Director Paul Krebs in his unrelated criminal case.
On Friday afternoon, Kennedy filed his entry of appearance in the Krebs matter.
If not a conflict, Kennedy’s decision to represent both Hopkins and Krebs makes for an interesting legal dynamic: Krebs could be called as a defense witness in the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s case against Hopkins, who has claimed that he was made a scapegoat for more egregious financial shenanigans that were taking place under Krebs’s watch. (Kennedy did not respond to a request for comment.)
“The right hand didn’t know what the left was doing,” Hopkins told NMFishbowl.com in March 2017, “because the left hand, [the Athletic Department], was just trying to do what they thought was best for them and not worry about whether they lined up with what they were supposed to be doing. They are just used to doing their own thing any way, so they did it.”
The criminal embezzlement charges against Hopkins piggy-backed off a 2016 UNM internal audit investigation, which found that Hopkins had misappropriated $63,000 of university funds through purchases and withdrawals on a school credit card. Following the internal audit, Krebs told the Albuquerque Journal that the matter constituted “an isolated act of one individual.”
Krebs was charged last week with five criminal counts, including fraud and money-laundering, stemming from his role in organizing a 2015 Lobo booster golfing junket to Scotland. Prior to the charges being filed, Krebs was being represented by attorney Gene Gallegos, a former University of New Mexico regent whose Santa Fe-based firm primarily does oil and gas law.
Hopkins, who declined to comment, is scheduled for a pretrial conference on March 12.
Kennedy, a one-time New Mexico Supreme Court justice, represented former Gov. Susana Martinez in a number of controversial cases during her time in office. Before leaving office, Martinez settled a public records lawsuit with journalist Jeff Proctor, who had sought the billing records showing how much New Mexico taxpayers had paid for that legal work.
Featured photo via YouTube.com/TVNewMexicoLobos