Evil Empire

Investigators say he was bigger than Sammy the Bull. His minions say he ruled the drug trade in the Valley's rave scene. Now, authorities have "English Shaun," the man they claim reigned over a nighttime empire of ecstasy, meth, violence and excess.

Those facing the most serious charges are Attwood, who is being charged as the ringleader; Peter Mahoney as the enforcer; Kerry Osborne as the administrator and dealer; Gary Menichello, who allegedly worked in meth; and Cody Bates and Sherwin Williams, who prosecutors maintain worked as dealers and smugglers. The other names on the indictment are involved on a significant yet peripheral level. Investigative sources warn of more indictments to come. This investigation, they say, is far from over.


It's just past 7:30 a.m. on June 28, and the waiting area outside Judge Michael Wilkinson's courtroom in Phoenix Superior Court is sterile in appearance, and morgue quiet. It's the initial pretrial conference for the 13 indicted in the English Shaun case. The last time they were all in the same room may have been when drugs and money were the foundations of their friendship. Now, it's hard to tell if any of them are friends at all.

Justin DeGarmo
In May, "English" Shaun Attwood and 12 others were arrested and indicted on charges that they took part in a multimillion-dollar drug ring known as "the Evil Empire." Row 1 (from left): Angel Capdevilla, Andrea Swanson, Carina McCormick, Patrick Powers. 


Row 2: Antwaine Cotton, Bonnie Helle, Cody Bates, Peter Mahoney. 


Row 3: Gary Menichello, George Garcia, Kerry Osborne, Sherwin Williams.
In May, "English" Shaun Attwood and 12 others were arrested and indicted on charges that they took part in a multimillion-dollar drug ring known as "the Evil Empire."

Row 1 (from left): Angel Capdevilla, Andrea Swanson, Carina McCormick, Patrick Powers.

Row 2: Antwaine Cotton, Bonnie Helle, Cody Bates, Peter Mahoney.

Row 3: Gary Menichello, George Garcia, Kerry Osborne, Sherwin Williams.

Details

Read Westword's related feature story about black-market GHB, "Sip of Fools."

Related Stories

More About

The lucky have bonded out, such as 20-year-old Andrea Swanson. She was busted with a quarter-pound of meth in her car near Gila Bend in March; those charges will be refiled as part of this indictment. She is tall and rail-thin, her gawky limbs dangling from a prim striped sweater and long navy skirt. Her hip bones jut visibly through the fabric as she careens around the sterile space like a pinball. Loping, pirouetting, pacing, tapping, spinning and flitting in and out of the rest room. Her parents, Brock and Judith, are there, standing silently on opposite corners of the room.

Ten minutes later, Attwood's girlfriend, 19-year-old Amber Holwegner, arrives with a young man and her parents. She is relaxed, even giggly. She and her friends laugh at the aliases the prosecution has assigned to those indicted, especially those they've given to her boyfriend. "Wanker . . . Evil . . . ," she reads them off. "They just do that so they can embarrass people." The Dietrichs arrive next, distant relations of Attwood's, and they introduce themselves to Amber and her family. They are here to try to get Amber's boyfriend's bail reduced from $750,000. They will tell the judge they trust Attwood implicitly, and would gladly have English Shaun baby-sit their 4-year-old child. They will be unsuccessful in convincing Wilkinson.

Gary Menichello enters next. His hair is cut short, his belly hangs over his pants, he's got a stud in his left ear. He rocks back and forth on his feet, fidgeting. Gary's girlfriend Carina is still in custody. They fell in love years ago when Gary was a nationally known DJ who played clubs all over the country. Meth appears to have ended that career rather quickly, tweak eating away at his talent and destroying his reputation. The day he was arrested was his first day on the job as a fund raiser for the Republican party.

Andrea manages to unfold her arms from around her chest to wave a little hi at Gary and Angel Capdevilla, another woman named in the indictment who has just shown up. Andrea goes to the rest room again, then emerges with a newspaper crossword which she holds in front of her face as she sits and gnaws on a pen. She hops up and heads back to the rest room.

The door to the courtroom opens and Cody Bates strides in wearing a white tee shirt and blue jeans. His brother and mother are with him. He buries his hands in his pockets and sighs noticeably when the judge rolls into the room. His public defender isn't present, but Cody stands tall in the back of the courtroom as he addresses Judge Wilkinson. He makes an unexpected announcement. "I'd like to self-surrender myself back into custody at this time, have my bond exonerated and back to mother directly today," he says. "I'm attempting to hire private counsel with bond money." His bond was $50,000.

The bailiff pulls out handcuffs; Cody takes a sip of water and hugs his mother. As they embrace, he whispers, "Bye, Mom. I'm staying alive. I'm going to jail, but I'm safe."

Throughout the proceedings, Shaun Attwood sits silently, staring ahead, as his attorney, Alan Simpson, argues that his client is just a day-trader from Tucson with no serious charges against him, certainly not enough to warrant three-quarters of a million dollars as a cash bond. Simpson produces a six-foot timeline of the case against his client,with the alleged telephone conversations marked in canary yellow.

Simpson is facing a tough and well-respected prosecutor, Laura Reckart from the state Attorney General's Office, who was also part of the case against Sammy the Bull and has worked extensively in gang and sex-crime cases.

"You know, as I was driving to work today I was listening to that Aerosmith song, 'Livin' on the Edge,'" Reckart says after the hearing. "When you live on the edge, you can't keep yourself from falling.That's what this case reminds me of. Once upon a time you thought you were so powerful, and now you're invisible, in chains in a courtroom."

Although transcripts of the wire taps — a principal source of evidence in this case — are sealed, Simpson questions the detectives' interpretations of the code they say Shaun and dealers used when making transactions. He painstakingly questions nearly every word, nit-picking what "green" or "girl" could mean. Of count 61, he says: "It's a solicitation call to Angel, in which my client says, Hey, you got some of that wine?' Surveillance then has Shaun going to her house and emerging with a bottle of wine."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Phoenix Concert Tickets
Loading...