A Pinal County Superior Court bailiff with a drug-dealing past was arrested Tuesday on accusations he took a $3,500 bribe for influencing a court case.
Lt. Tamatha Villar, Pinal County Sheriff's spokeswoman, said the investigation into Royzell Williams, 46, found no wrongdoing by any other court employees or judges.
The court and the Pinal County Attorney's Office became aware that Williams was soliciting bribes from litigants in exchange for influencing their cases, Villar said.
"There is no way a bailiff is in a position to influence a judge," said Judge William O'Neil, speaking for the court.
Bailiffs typically work as assistants to the judge. Their position of trust isn't as significant as a court clerk, who handles court exhibits, money and the court record, O'Neil said.
Williams was indicted in 1994 on charges of marijuana trafficking, and he was sentenced to prison for nine years.
Williams disclosed his record in 2004 when he was hired by the county.
Judges have no say in hiring bailiffs in Pinal County Superior Court. Permanent employees in the judicial branch are chosen by a panel of citizens.
"He was a unanimous recommendation by them," O'Neil said. "There is no prohibition against an individual who has paid the price."
Williams worked in family court, where highly emotional issues of divorce and child custody are decided.
When Judge Carter Olson, the county's lead judge, got word of Williams' alleged bribes, he was going to put him on administrative leave immediately, O'Neil said.
But Sheriff Paul Babeu convinced Olson to keep him employed in order to conduct an undercover investigation.
Williams eventually offered an undercover investigator $3,500 to influence a case, Villar said.
He was booked into Pinal County jail on a charge of bribery of a public servant and offer to exert improper influence on a public officer, charges that can carry up to 2 1/2 years in prison for first-time offenders and significantly more for people with criminal records such as Williams.