Brother's Keeper

Phoenix boxing great Michael Carbajal says his big brother and manager, Danny, stole every penny he had

"Not creditors," Danny replied. "Just from Michael being hurt . . . If he ever got into trouble, they would take it away. Like for fighting [out of the ring], for any personal type of thing."

Trouble is, Danny never did "turn over" the properties to Michael, even after he illegally wrested them from Sally in a way that could land him in prison after his sentencing.

Instead, he held onto all of the properties until recently.

Michael Carbajal on the shoulders of his brothers Danny (left) and Angel (right)
Stephen Dunn/Getty images
Michael Carbajal on the shoulders of his brothers Danny (left) and Angel (right)
Boxing champion Michael Carbajal in 2006.
Al Bello/Getty Images
Boxing champion Michael Carbajal in 2006.

In the past year, however, Danny has sold or quit-claimed at least five of the contested properties, four of them in recent insider deals involving his daughter Josephine and Keith Brazier, the father of her son, and her current boyfriend, Jose Espinal.

For example, on September 26, one day after Danny pleaded guilty in Maricopa County Superior Court, he filed quit-claim paperwork with the County Recorder's Office to transfer his sole ownership of a tiny home at 901 East McKinley Street to Josephine.

Back in December 1999, Danny or one of his daughters had forged Sally Carbajal's name onto a quit-claim deed that transferred Sally's half-share of the McKinley house to Danny. (Sally later claimed to know nothing about that or other quit-claims signed in her name.)

That property would sell for about $116,000 today, according to zillow.com.

On October 24, Michael's attorney wrote to Josephine Carbajal that "it is our understanding that Danny Carbajal, your father, executed a quit-claim deed in your favor when you had full knowledge and understanding that, in fact, the property was originally paid for by your uncle, Michael Carbajal, and that your father had no ownership interest."

It is unthinkable to Michael, Alan Susman says, that Josephine is benefiting financially by assuming ownership of a property that she helped her father steal from her late mother — and was Michael's to begin with.

"Josephine appears to have assisted in the fraudulent activities to enable her father to steal community property assets, including several real estate property assets, from her mother," a court officer wrote of Danny and Sally's daughter in a pre-sentencing report last summer.

"Tragically, the defendant's mother — the victim in the extensive fraudulent schemes — was a victim of a homicide just days before her divorce proceedings from co-defendant and father, Danny Carbajal. As such, justice may never be served for Sally Carbajal, as her family members, who perpetrated this fraud, have received the benefits of their actions."

As part of his lawsuit, Michael is asking for legal ownership of the McKinley house revert to him.

Also, on September 19, Danny sold two lots at 926 and 930 East Fillmore to Josephine's ex-boyfriend, Keith Brazier, for $40,000, about a third of the going market price for land in booming downtown Phoenix.

Real estate records show that Danny and Sally Carbajal had "bought" the parcels from Danny's little brother Angel in 1991 for $35,000. That transaction, too, was made with Michael's money, according to Michael's new lawsuit and to Danny's own deposition.

Danny sold the parcels to Brazier just two weeks after receiving a quit-claim deed and explanatory letter from attorney Susman. A simple signature by Danny would have released the parcels to Michael.

But Susman says Danny didn't respond to his August 20 letter.

So much for Danny's returning the properties to Michael, as he'd promised in his deposition would happen in due time.

"It is clear that you did not pay fair market value and had knowledge that the properties were in the name Danny Carbajal under false pretenses," Susman recently wrote to Keith Brazier.

That land is across the street on East Fillmore from Carbajal's Ninth Street Gym, a former church turned nonprofit boxing club that opened to fanfare in the mid-1990s before slipping into disrepair.

Danny originally was president of the gym, and Sally its vice president. Michael, ironically, was listed as its treasurer.

The irony stems from Michael's never paying attention to money until lately. Instead, he left his finances in brother Danny's hands.

That won't be happening anymore.


Michael Carbajal's ascent to boxing greatness began at 910 East Fillmore Street, the family home a mile or so from Chase Field.

Danny Carbajal, who is almost 16 years older than Michael, fashioned a crude yet effective indoor-outdoor gym in the backyard, replete with homemade training contraptions and a makeshift ring.

This was Michael's legendary training ground, where he learned the ropes from his big brother in relentless sessions that began as soon as he was old enough to throw a punch.

"I want to be a world champion," Michael told New Times 20 years ago in his first press interview ever ("A Hit With His Family," September 23, 1987). "I want to have a big family of kids who love me. That's it."

Danny lived next door at 914 East Fillmore with Sally and their two daughters until a few years after Michael struck gold.

Sally was her family's breadwinner before Michael turned pro, a manager at a local Bank One (which later became Chase). Danny once had worked as a draftsman, but he spent his time after Michael hit his teens working toward one goal — turning his little brother into a world champion.

Before Michael and Chiquita Gonzalez came along, little-guy boxers (Michael fought at a mere 108 pounds for most of his career) earned a fraction of what their far-bigger counterparts could make in the ring.

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14 comments
Arturocarrasco75
Arturocarrasco75

mikael..keep your head up brother. Its a real shame your own blood did this to you.like i told you in your face...you have always been my idol, long before we met. and im proud of you and lucky to have shaken your hand that made you a true champion. arturo carrasco sr.

maria Sanchez
maria Sanchez

how much sympathy can anyone really have for Michael. He is not a victim in this case. Do you think Danny didn't get paid for training? Come on people, your not that dumb. Danny has to have his own money and so did Michael. this shows how blinded fans can get when someone they admire makes bad decisions. Michael tries to use the sympathy of his fans, which are limited now. If you look at Michael's history with police and his violent , loud behavior you will see that he is not the innocent man that never spend any money he claims to be. It's sad he is using his fans admiration to go against his brother. Those two were so close that I believe Michael knew where all of his money was going. You can't fool this ex-fan.

Lori
Lori

Wow, what a sad sad story...too many times things like this happen in families and it just shows that blood is not thicker than water...to stab your own brother in the back...how does he look at himself everyday..very sad for Michael...I hope he find happiness, God Bless.

Ed
Ed

I've met Michael several times at Mecca Lounge (now razed). when he got drunk, he became abusive. i guess that was why he always had friends who drank with him(he bought). If you're stupid enough to be taken, then you get taken. Danny saw an easy score and took it. you can meet Danny now at that bar on 16th street drinking Michelobs with Mike's money.

Davey Altamirano Jr.
Davey Altamirano Jr.

Danny and Michael were the men who taught me how to really throw a punch. They trained me for some time in the jr. middleweight division at the 9th st. gym. It was the best experience of my life and im truly saddened by this whole incident cause i talked to them about fighting all the time cause i always looked up to them. I feel sorry for michael and what he is going through, i pray for him and the family. god bless, AKA Little Big Head.

Ralph R
Ralph R

Everyone in boxing is talking about this story. Please follow it up

Micho
Micho

I knew some of the Carbajal's and I remember when Angel would get of the Bus and walk down the street and he would buy Ice Cream for us. But to hear all of this is sad, especially for Michael and Mary. I looked at quit claim deed and Mary is spelled with two rr's and I think she would know how to spell her own name. The more stuff that comes out about Danny the more I suspect he is guilty of these heinous things. One thing though, Michael should have always kept his financial adviser, when it comes to money, it will tear even brothers with a strong bond apart. Michael should get on the wagon rebound and focus on training the next crop of Arizona champs.

Luis Lopez
Luis Lopez

Danny and his daughters ought to be ashamed of themselves. This boy needs to go away for a long, long time....Unbelivable

Roland Parks
Roland Parks

I was a big big fan of Michael's and remember all of your great stories on him and his family from way back when. I also read your story a few years ago about the murder and couldn't believe it. This is just so sad. I can see how Michael got taken for a ride because if you can't trust your brother, who can you trust? I hope he survives all this.

MaryK Croft
MaryK Croft

My family was there in the late '80's and our band, Side Effects, did some fund-raisers for Michael in 1987. We thought they were a class act, the whole Carbajal family. How sad this whole thing is! What I most hope for is that Sally gets vindicated. Michael will simply continue to live and may or may not get over it, but Sally, a domestic violence victim, doesn't even have that much.

David Lopez
David Lopez

This is a fucking amazing story. Wowwwwwwwwww....Son of a bitch

9st vp
9st vp

Hey Maria Sanchez you got a big mouth and if you knew the truth you wouldnt be commenting like that..... danny have you believing he is not guilty.... Michael is my uncle and i know the truth i see and witness so do your research before opening your FAT mouth.... you were never a fan because a true fan would stick by his side... i am telling you this so you're not having Michael as the "bad guy"..........

Diamondjohnson317
Diamondjohnson317

Hey DUMB IDIOT, you are as stupid as your uncle. I heard all about his faggot ass. He was picking up a hooker on Van Buren by your hood and found out it was a man. He liked the man but the pimp beat up your uncle cause he did'nt want to pay. Hell nah, that's low and I think Maris has a point and sounds a lot more smarter than you. You need to research about you uncle on Vanburen. Sounds like he is a bad guy...sorry.

Trickedoutscion06
Trickedoutscion06

hey 9st vp would u be able to email me if possiable trickedoutscion06@yahoo.com

 
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