The Albuquerque Journal reports that Danny Burnett has pleaded innocent.
Burnett is the husband of Paula Burnett, an assistant U.S. attorney, and is accused to telling his friend Angelo Vega about the wiretaps.
Vega was the Columbus Police Chief at the time, and eventually pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy, aiding in the smuggling of weapons and extortion.
Burnett, who retired as superintendent of the Los Lunas School District in 2003, and Vega reportedly were friends from their days in Lincoln County in the 1990s, where Vega was a deputy sheriff and Burnett, an educator.
Vega was charged with providing security for the gun smuggling operation, earning $20,000 in a two-month period while running interference for Columbus Town Trustee Blas “Woody” Gutierrez. Gutierrez also pleaded guilty to charges against him.
Vega was helping Gutierrez by buying police equipment, including bulletproof vests, identifying law enforcement undercover vehicles and generally running interference with federal and state law enforcement agencies.
Another man – Ignacio "Nacho" Villalobos – who allegedly led the gun smuggling ring, subsequently fled and remains a fugitive from charges of conspiracy and firearms smuggling.
Paula Burnett, the government lawyer who is married to the defendant, has denied knowing about the wiretaps or telling her husband about the investigation.