Dirty Tricks

A call to an ex-gubernatorial candidate's campaign cell phone is linked to forged documents used to slam Napolitano and Salmon.

A former Democrat who served as Arizona Secretary of State from 1991 through 1995, Mahoney narrowly lost the 1996 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate to former Congressman Sam Coppersmith.

Vagenas has been a close associate of Mahoney's for more than a decade, once serving as his deputy secretary of state. In addition, Vagenas has been a leader in several pro-marijuana initiatives that have appeared on the Arizona ballot since 1996.

The investigation by the DPS included interviews with several members of the AG's staff that ruled out the possibility that the documents were produced from within the AG's office.

Rand Carlson

Police also subpoenaed numerous telephone records, beginning with a telephone number that appeared to be a contact for Olsen that was written on one of the documents faxed to the newspapers. Police determined that someone giving the name Stephanie Olsen began cell phone service with a 602 area code on September 16, 2002.

Someone using the Olsen phone called eight Phoenix-area phone numbers. Two of the numbers were to different cell phones belonging to Vagenas, and a third call was to the primary cell phone used by Mahoney during the campaign. The Olsen phone was also used to call a cell phone owned by Jonathon Levenson, who was a Mahoney campaign worker.

Levenson tells New Times that he does not remember talking to anybody named Olsen, but at the same time, doesn't rule out having such a conversation.

All the calls placed on the Olsen phone were to 480 and 602 numbers, except for a toll-free call to Verizon customer service. Yet all the calls were listed on the bill as long-distance, indicating that the Olsen phone was not in the Phoenix area. The longest call made on the Olsen phone was for 18 minutes to the KFYI radio talk show on September 24 -- two days before the forged documents were faxed to the newspapers.

Calls on the Olsen phone were placed to Vagenas twice on September 17 and once on September 18. A four-minute call was placed on the Olsen phone to Mahoney's cell phone on September 27 -- moments after Mahoney's phone was used to call Olsen's phone.

New Times has had no more luck locating Olsen than DPS investigators. The home address given when the Olsen phone was activated is for an apartment in Mesa. But when investigators went to the high-rise complex on North Robson Road, they were told by the manager that no one by the name of Stephanie Olsen lived there.

Mahoney was first contacted by the DPS last February 3 to explain why his cell phone had received a call from the Olsen phone. At first, Mahoney agreed to meet with investigators. But he declined the following day, telling the DPS that it should contact his attorney, Michael Piccareta.

"In the interest of fairness, I think you [DPS Detective Kevin Wood) need to go through my attorney," Mahoney is quoted as saying in the DPS report.

Vagenas, meanwhile, hired attorney Tom Rawles after he was contacted by the DPS in early April. According to the agency's report, Rawles called authorities on April 3 and said Vagenas "was in the dark about what was going on."

The DPS never investigated further by contacting the lawyers, a spokesman says, because the AG's office never asked for further information.

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