By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
It begs the question: Is Ann Symington an unindicted co-conspirator masquerading as an ingenue?
When government investigators began showing an interest in Fife Symington's former secretary Joyce Riebel several years ago, Ann Symington paid for Joyce Riebel's lawyer.
Attorneys for the governor and Riebel crafted a "joint defense agreement." And after being granted immunity from prosecution, Riebel reluctantly testified last week about her role in preparing those wildly conflicting financial statements.
Ann Symington's reaction to Riebel's testimony spoke volumes.
The first lady of Arizona sat in her usual place, the first seat in the first row of the right-hand side of the courtroom, directly behind her husband. A large monitor--a high-tech tool that displays and magnifies the allegedly fraudulent financial statements--glowered from above.
As the screen displayed incriminating documents and prosecutors asked Riebel about Ann Symington's wealth, Ann did not look up at the monitor. She was simply above being confronted with ugly truths.
Instead, she penned messages on personalized stationery.
Despite her feigned indifference, she must have been absorbing every word from Riebel, whose testimony might send the governor to prison. How could she not?
Sometimes, Ann Symington's 67-year-old mother, Marydell Olin Pritzlaff, sits in for Ann. Pritzlaff barely masks her disdain for her wastrel son-in-law. Pritzlaff avoids talking to the governor during breaks, and once, when she made eye contact with him, a palpable coldness passed between them. When prosecutors harp about Symington's misrepresentation of trust-funds assets, Marydell Olin Pritzlaff casts her eyes downward and seems ashamed. She knows about trust funds. She knows her son-in-law was dishonest.
After court last week, I asked her for an interview. She hurried down the street without replying.
She's an innocent victim, a real one, and Ann Symington should not expose her elderly mother to this humiliation.
Another innocent victim, Ann Symington's daughter Whitney Symington, occasionally comes to sit with her grandmother. You can see these two are close. There is more warmth between Whitney and her grandmother than between Ann and Whitney. Whitney doesn't exhibit much patience for her father's trial--and bolts from the court early on occasion.
In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Etta Place leaves her job as a schoolteacher and follows her lover, a smooth-talking bank thief. But as their South American getaway sours, as her man proves he is incapable of living honestly, Etta comes to her senses. She abandons her man shortly before he and his accomplice are surrounded and slaughtered by an army of federales in some Andean courtyard.
The federales are closing in again.