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PHOENIX (AP) — Five former Arizona child-welfare workers have filed suit against the state for what they call their wrongful termination amid an agency scandal, their attorney said Wednesday.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a new recommendation this week asking airlines to ban e-cigarettes in carry-on luggage.
Arizona State University police officer Stewart Ferrin was supposed to be fired this week. The ASU police chief has placed him back on indefinite administrative leave pending further review.
A former teacher at Highland High School in Gilbert was sentenced to eight years in prison on Jan. 16 for having sex with an underage student.
Two Maricopa police officers fatally shot a man in an incident under investigation by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
PHOENIX (AP) — The director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, who survived a scandal at his Child Protective Services unit last year with the backing of then-Gov. Jan Brewer, handed in his resignation letter Monday just after Gov. Doug Ducey took the oath of office
AVONDALE, Ariz. - A family of six is homeless – for the second time in about a month -- after fire swept through their Avondale trailer home Sunday.
BENSON, Ariz. (AP) — Two people were killed in a helicopter crash Wednesday in southern Arizona.
Gilbert’s 2014 was filled with a mix of progress and tumult among its governing entities. Its main school district continued to earn high marks but still went through a contentious year, while the town government itself currently faces a suit in the U.S. Supreme Court.
PHOENIX (AP) — A judge has ruled that the Department of Veterans Affairs was justified in firing the former director of its Phoenix office, but not because of delays in care and secret waiting lists that consumed the agency this year.
PHOENIX (AP) — A prosecutor accepted blame Friday for an error by his office that's expected to lead to the dismissal of corruption charges against at least one former sheriff's employee accused of helping a cartel-connected heroin smuggling ring.
PHOENIX (AP) — A woman accused of fatally shooting a man and injuring another outside a Phoenix sports bar has been sentenced to 43 years in prison.
Joseph Yahner is leading the Phoenix Police Department once again.
PHOENIX (AP) — An Oklahoma man was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison for his conviction on charges of mailing an inoperable homemade bomb to an Arizona sheriff in a plot to frame a former business partner.
Phoenix police are investigating a shooting that left one woman dead and an infant injured in Ahwatukee on Thursday, Dec. 11.
PHOENIX -- A federal appeals court Wednesday upheld awarding $300,000 in punitive damages to a former Asarco employees who successfully sued for company for sexual harassment
Calling the award justified, a federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld giving $300,000 in punitive damages to a former Asarco employees who successfully sued for company for sexual harassment.
One person is dead after a fire consumed a trailer in Mesa on Thursday morning, according to the Rural Metro Fire Department.
A school bus full of students collided with another bus in Gilbert Wednesday afternoon.
Firefighters rescued two dogs that were trapped in a burning Mesa home early Tuesday morning, according to the Mesa Fire Department.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A northern Arizona highway that was clouded in smoke from a wildfire has reopened.
A five-mile stretch of US 180 north of Flagstaff was closed to traffic Sunday due to smoke and firefighting activity. It reopened Monday afternoon after smoke diminished and firefighting efforts moved away from the highway.
The highway is the primary route between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.
The fire has burned more than 500 acres and was 50 percent contained Monday. Coconino National Forest officials say the majority of heavy fuels have been consumed. It's expected to be fully contained Tuesday.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation but forest officials say it was human-caused.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Transportation officials say a brush fire has caused a closure on a highway that is the primary route between the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff.
The Arizona Department of Transportation said Sunday a 5-mile stretch of U.S. 180 was closed to traffic in both directions due to a fire north of Flagstaff.
The agency advised motorists traveling south from the Grand Canyon to take State Route 64 to Interstate 40 in the Williams area. From there, drivers going to Flagstaff or Interstate 17 should head east.
How long the closure will remain is uncertain.
KTVK-TV reports the U.S. Forest Service says no structures are being threatened by the wildfire that has burned 75 acres near Kendrick Mountain.
The agency says the cause is still under investigation.
PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Attorney for Arizona has found no evidence that Arizona's pension fund for public safety workers committed criminal misconduct when it valued some real estate properties in its $6.2 billion portfolio, pension officials announced Monday.
The board chairman for the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, Brian Tobin, said the decision by the US Attorney for Arizona closes the books on the yearlong investigation of the pension fund.
The FBI and U.S. attorney's office launched the probe last year into whether real estate values were inflated to boost performance bonuses awarded to some senior investment managers. The allegations were brought to the attention of prosecutors by former pension system employees.
"This was and is a serious allegation," Tobin said. "It's not true and it never was true."
Tobin said the investigation, and two others done by its independent auditing firm and the Arizona Auditor General that also cleared the pension fund, are examples of the system's checks and balances working correctly.
Board lawyer James Belanger said the Justice Department is completing a review of several people he would not identify. But he said he expects they'll be cleared as well.
The pension plan released a letter from the U.S. attorney to Belanger confirming the decision. Cosme Lopez, spokesman for U.S. Attorney for Arizona John Leonardo, confirmed the contents of the letter but could not comment on any additional reviews.
The pension plan for public safety employees is facing a massive shortfall between its assets and what it expects to owe police and firefighters across the state when they retire. The latest projection as of June 30 shows $12.2 billion in liabilities compared to just $6.2 billion in assets.
The pension board also fired its top administrator, Jim Hacking, in July after it was revealed that he had illegally awarded pay raises to five senior employees.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the troubled Phoenix veterans' hospital was fired Monday as the Veterans Affairs Department continued its crackdown on wrongdoing in the wake of a nationwide scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care and falsified records covering up the delays.
Sharon Helman, director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, was ousted nearly seven months after she and two high-ranking officials were placed on administrative leave amid an investigation into allegations that 40 veterans died while awaiting treatment at the hospital. Helman had led the giant Phoenix facility, which treats more than 80,000 veterans a year, since February 2012.
The Phoenix hospital was at the center of the wait-time scandal, which led to the ouster of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and a new, $16 billion law overhauling the labyrinthine veterans' health care system.
VA Secretary Robert McDonald said Helman's dismissal underscores the agency's commitment to hold leaders accountable and ensure that veterans have access to high-quality, timely care.
An investigation by the VA's office of inspector general found that workers at the Phoenix VA hospital falsified waiting lists while their supervisors looked the other way or even directed it, resulting in chronic delays for veterans seeking care. At least 40 patients died while awaiting appointments in Phoenix, the report said, but officials could not "conclusively assert" that delays in care caused the deaths.
About 1,700 veterans in need of care were "at risk of being lost or forgotten" after being kept off the official waiting list at the troubled Phoenix hospital, the IG's office said.
"Lack of oversight and misconduct by VA leaders runs counter to our mission of serving veterans, and VA will not tolerate it," McDonald said in a statement late Monday. "We depend on VA employees and leaders to put the needs of veterans first."
Helman is the fifth senior executive fired or forced to resign in recent weeks in response to the wait-time scandal.
Helman did not immediately respond to telephone messages Monday from The Associated Press.
Helman, who has worked at the VA since 1990, has been on paid leave since May 1, shortly after a former clinic director at the Phoenix site alleged that up to 40 patients may have died because of delays in care and that the hospital kept a secret list of patients waiting for appointments to hide the treatment delays.
Dr. Samuel Foote, who had worked for the Phoenix VA for more than 20 years before retiring last December, brought the allegations to light and says supervisors ignored his complaints for months.
In an interview with the AP in May, hours before being placed on administrative leave, Helman denied any knowledge of a secret list and said she had found no evidence of patient deaths due to delayed care.
Helman told the AP that she takes her job seriously and was personally offended by the claims of misconduct.
"I have given over 20 years of service to this mission. I am proud to lead this hospital," Helman said. "I have never wavered from the ethical standards that I have held my entire career, and I will continue to give these veterans what they deserve, which is the best health care."
Associated Press writer Brian Skoloff in Phoenix contributed to this story.
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona's attorney general has sued General Motors for failing to recall millions of cars and trucks with safety defects the auto giant did not disclose for years. The lawsuit seeks potentially billions of dollars in fines.
Attorney General Tom Horne said Thursday that he sued under the state's consumer fraud statutes and is seeking a $10,000 fine for each of hundreds of thousands of defective vehicles sold in the state. The lawsuit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix also seeks an injunction barring GM from similar actions and an order that it hand over profits it made from selling defective vehicles.
Horne took action independent of a group of 48 states that have been jointly investigating GM, which Arizona was participating in. "I made the decision that my job was to protect Arizona citizens and that I would be doing that better if we moved ahead with the lawsuit," he said.
GM said in a statement that it is committed to setting a new industry standard for safety, quality and excellence and proactively recalling cars and trucks when it finds a defect. The company said it has not had a chance to read and assess the complaint.
Horne's actions came on the same day that news broke that he was settling campaign-finance allegations brought by the state's public campaign financing board and would pay a $10,000 fine. Horne is leaving office in January after losing to his Republican opponent in the primary after years of allegations that he violated campaign laws in 2010 and again this year.
Horne said the two developments were unrelated. "One of the questions that I was asked frequently was 'can I continue doing my job while defending against charges which I say are false charges,' and I've always said yes, I can," he said.
GM has recalled more than 30 million vehicles so far this year, including millions of cars equipped with a defective ignition switch that has been blamed for at least 32 deaths. The ignition switches were installed in many GM small cars for years, and the company has been under fire for failing to recall them until early this year.
GM has hired compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg to pay victims and their families and expects to pay $400 million to $600 million in claims.
In addition to two assistant attorneys general listed on the lawsuit, Horne brought in a Seattle law firm with a long history of class action lawsuits against major companies, including suing Toyota in a sudden-acceleration case.
The GM lawsuit alleges the company failed to ensure its products were safe, did not tell the truth about safety issues and failed to promptly recall defective vehicles. It also said GM's purported new safety culture "was an illusion given the company's egregious failure to disclose, and its affirmative concealment of, ignition switch defects and a plethora of other safety defects in GM-branded vehicles."