Former LL superintendent sentenced to federal prison

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Former Los Lunas School superintendent Danny Burnett was sentenced Tuesday to one year and one day in federal prison, followed by one year of supervised release for leaking information regarding a criminal investigation to the target of the investigation.

In September 2013, a federal jury convicted Burnett, 64, of one count of giving notice of certain electronic surveillance and one count of making a false statement to federal investigators.

Burnett's wife, Paula Burnett, was the chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's Office at that time. She was never charged with any wrongdoing and retired last year after her husband's conviction.

During the trial, evidence was presented that revealed that on Feb. 17, 2011, Burnett met with long-time friend, Columbus (N.M.) Police Chief Angelo Vega, at an Albuquerque restaurant and advised him that federal investigators had a wiretap on Vega's phone.

Burnett was also convicted of making a false statement to federal investigators on Feb. 28, 2012, when he denied notifying Vega that he was the subject of a firearms trafficking investigation.

Burnett faced a sentence of 33-to-41 months in prison.

"By disclosing the existence of a wiretap to former Columbus Police Chief Angelo Vega, Mr. Burnett undermined a federal investigation of the trafficking of firearms into Mexico and put law enforcement agents in jeopardy," said United States Attorney Robert Pitman. "His friendship with Vega explains, but does not excuse or justify compromising the investigation of such serious criminal activity.

"While Mr. Burnett was not a party to the underlying criminality, he committed a serious violation of law in his own right. This office and the Department of Justice will vigorously investigate and prosecute crimes against the integrity of the criminal justice system."