Stapley indicted; Thomas to prosecute - East Valley Tribune: News

Stapley indicted; Thomas to prosecute

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Posted: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 12:15 pm | Updated: 1:34 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A grand jury indicted Maricopa County Supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox Monday, alleging corruption by the elected officials in separate cases.

Read the indictments: Stapley Wilcox

A grand jury indicted Maricopa County Supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox Monday, alleging corruption by the elected officials in separate cases.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Tuesday in a press conference that more county officials — including judges — are under investigation for trying to shield investigations of Stapley, a Mesa Republican, and Wilcox, a Phoenix Democrat.

Attempts to reach Stapley, Wilcox and their attorneys were unsuccessful.

Stapley’s indictment stems from his arrest in October, which came three days after a previous indictment against him had been dismissed.

Tuesday’s indictment alleges charges of fraud, forgery, false swearing and theft. The indictment alleges he used campaign funds intended for his candidacy for president of the National Association of Counties for personal use, helping himself to such luxuries as electronics, hair plugs, Swedish massages, ski trips and vacations.

The 27-count indictment also alleges he claimed annual income of $15,000 from a land deal for the purposes of getting a loan but didn’t mention it on his taxes.

Wilcox was indicted on 12 counts of conflict of interest, eight counts of perjury, forgery and false swearing. The indictment alleges she never followed the requirement of disclosing a possible conflict of interest when she voted on several county contracts involving Chicanos Por La Causa. Thomas said she had outstanding business loans from the lending arm of the charitable organization when she cast her votes.

The latest indictment shows that Thomas will be the prosecutor.

Stapley’s legal problems date back to November 2008 when he was indicted on 118 counts alleging he failed to make financial disclosures as an elected official.

That case was dismissed in September, and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office arrested him three days later on the current allegations, but the case had yet to be taken to court because there was no one to prosecute.

Thomas had disqualified his office from prosecuting or investigating Stapley in April to avoid conflict-of-interest issues.

Thomas could not find another county attorney’s office to take the case because most lacked resources to handle such a complex prosecution.

The Board of Supervisors has also refused to approve Thomas’ choice of special prosecutors to prosecute Stapley, saying Thomas did not follow proper procurement rules.

Thomas said he has no legal conflict of interest in prosecuting the county supervisors, but he had farmed out the previous indictment and was trying to farm out the second case in the interest of avoiding the perception of a conflict.

Thomas said legal precedent allows him to prosecute the cases.

The indictments come a week after Thomas sued the Board of Supervisors, county management and four judges in federal court, alleging they hindered investigations and prosecutions in exchange for funding a $345 million court building.

Thomas alleges the judges were hand-picked to torpedo the prosecution.

The cases against Wilcox and Stapley will require a judge from another county when they go to trial, he said.

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