Ultimately, thought, it's not Wolfswinkel's deposition that I'm concerned about. His lawyers have already offered to unseal the parts involving Stapley, so long as the county attorney agrees to a protective order to keep the information under wraps. (So far, the county attorney has refused — no doubt visions of yet another press conference are dancing in Thomas' head.)

No, my concern is about justice.

It's clear to me that Thomas isn't pursuing Don Stapley because Stapley is somehow a menace to the community. Or because he can show any actual corruption on the county supervisor's part.

He's pursuing Stapley because, in my opinion, it benefits his private attorney. And because he likes to appear tough on crime. And because he can.

The thing is, he shouldn't.

As I first revealed in a blog post earlier this month, a deputy county attorney working under Thomas actually gave legal advice to Stapley two years ago regarding his dealings with Wolfswinkel.

Here's what happened: A Wolfswinkel company, Vanderbilt Farms, had an item on the supervisors' agenda in December 2006. Stapley was concerned about a conflict of interest because of his land dealings with a different Wolfswinkel entity, so he described those dealings to Deputy County Attorney Victoria Mangiapane. She actually helped him prepare a letter detailing his conflict of interest, one that Stapley then filed with the clerk of the Board of Supervisors.

At that point, the letter became a public record. That's clear proof that Stapley wasn't trying to hide his relationship with Wolfswinkel. Yes, he omitted their land dealings from his annual disclosure forms, but he disclosed them to the county attorney and in a public document. The county's disclosure forms are extremely complicated. How much you want to bet Stapley just got sloppy?

And even more than removing the "motive" Thomas has attempted to ascribe to Stapley, the meeting with Mangiapane should force Thomas to recuse himself in this case. His office simply cannot prosecute Stapley for a matter that it advised him on.

Thomas surely can see that. And if he can't, we should all question what's clouded his judgment. Pardon me for being a cynic, but loyalty to a guy who's thus far managed to save his law license simply doesn't cut it.

MEET THE NEW BOSS

Speaking of cynicism . . .

Nine years ago, Phoenix District 6 Councilman Sal DiCiccio resigned his seat to run for Congress. He lost. Then he ran for Secretary of State. He lost again.

Last week, DiCiccio finally won public office: District 6 councilman. DiCiccio's replacement from 2000, Greg Stanton, has resigned to take a job with the Attorney General's Office, and DiCiccio mounted a spirited campaign to persuade the city council to appoint him to the seat he once abandoned.

DiCiccio wasn't anybody's idea of a shoe-in. A bit of a gadfly back in his days at City Hall, he irritated then-Mayor Skip Rimsza to the point that Rimsza wrote a blistering op-ed piece denouncing him during his congressional run. And I don't think it was just Rimsza; when former Councilwoman Peggy Bilsten endorsed him last week, she began by saying, "I'm sure you're shocked to hear this . . ." DiCiccio rubbed a lot of City Hall types the wrong way.

So what won him the nod? Insiders tell me there were simply two reasons: the powerful Phoenix firefighters union, and pressure from that group's former president-turned-lobbyist, Billy Shields. Shields' wife, Lora Villasenor, used to be DiCiccio's top aide — and both husband and wife wanted DiCiccio back in office, big-time.

Now, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. DiCiccio has the support of the neighbors who actually follow municipal politics, and he certainly knows the job. And being a pain in the neck isn't always a bad thing.

What's alarming, though, is how DiCiccio feels about Mexico.

Two years ago, DiCiccio wrote an op-ed piece published in both the Arizona Republic and the East Valley Tribune. He began:

"The current debate on immigration reform leaves out the most important issue: the importation of a corrupt culture. South of the border, you have a governmental system that allows and sometimes encourages bribery of local officials. It is no wonder that more heinous crimes follow.

"It is only a matter of time before a wave of violence will be coming our way. The gun battles with police; the beheadings of journalists, the kidnappings of families — these are a line in the desert away from our country and state.

"When people lose faith in their own economic and political system, the only natural response is to flee. This should not be a surprise. I don't blame anyone wanting to leave that corruption.

"Unfortunately, with the good will come the bad. And the bad is pretty awful."

Under questioning last week from Councilman Michael Nowakowski, whose mother was of Mexican descent, DiCiccio said he was "offended" that anyone would suggest he's anti-Mexican.

Oh, really? He impugned an entire culture as corrupt and suggested that allowing its citizens to immigrate will bring a "wave of violence," and then he's offended when Nowakowski actually takes his words at face value? DiCiccio's column doesn't even bother with the usual pretense that, if we allow for an orderly legal process, there's a place in this country for an influx of Mexican immigrants. To DiCiccio, their illegal status is less a problem as their very Mexican-ness — that importation of a "corrupt culture."

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8 comments
JP
JP

"In what officials caution is now a dangerous and even deadly crime wave, Phoenix, Arizona has become the kidnapping capital of America, with more incidents than any other city in the world outside of Mexico City and over 370 cases last year alone."ABC News, February 11, 2009

Clearly, Sal Diciccio should be praised for his prescient comments of two years, not condemned.

Taxpayer ripped off
Taxpayer ripped off

correction:

it's long overdue to get thomas out of power. thomas has abused the law and taxpayers long enough, with his personal and political agenda and the destruction of anyone who might step is his way. the county attorney should not be a political position and this is an example for the need to get a professional career county attorney who does their work behind the scenes. the taxpayers want his advertising and pr money back. get rid of thomas websites building his name while destroying others. if he wants the az bar reformed (which means reform of the legal system -- we all agree we don't need corrupt lawyers) he also needs to have a logo of the sheriff's office to appear also. the sheriff's office is long overdue for reform. while at it add the ADOC logo -- it needs major reform -- get rid of the lobbyists and profiteers in all these scams of the taxpayers and vulnerable people.Comment by Taxpayer ripped off by thomas / arpaio / pearce

Taxpayer ripped off by thomas
Taxpayer ripped off by thomas

it's long overdue to thomas out of power. he has abused the law and taxpayers long enough, with his personal political agenda and the destruction of anyone who might step is his way. the county attorney should not be a political position and this is an example for the need to get a professional career county attorney who does their work behind the scenes. the taxpayer want his advertising and pr money back. get rid of thomas websites building his name while destroying others. if he wants the az bar reformed, he also needs to have a logo of the sheriff's office there also. the sheriff's office is long overdue for reform. while at it add the ADOC logo and it needs reform -- get rid of the lobbyists and profiteers in all these scams of the taxpayers and vulnerable people.

harold
harold

not only kick him off the stapley case but out of office. Him and his side kick joker need the boot.

J DUB
J DUB

I'm liking that DiCiccio guy more and more. I didn't see anything innacurate in his comments. MUCH of Maricopa county's crime is do to our southern brethren. Let's quit pretending that all illegals are just swell, kind hearted people looking for a better life. Bull. As Americans we'd be much, much safer with secure borders. It's refreshing to see/hear someone state publicly the tough truths we are facing.

TommyC1
TommyC1

Sarah, you are quickly becoming a journalistic hero!

"the importation of a corrupt culture. South of the border, you have a governmental system that allows and sometimes encourages bribery of local officials."

It's interesting that the newest member of Phoenix city council would have written this, even just two or so years ago. I would expect that if Mr. DiCiccio has been paying attention in Arizona over at least the past five years he has seen a culture of corruption right here in Maricopa County, such as the way the 'Shurf' behaves, along with his twin sister, Andrew Thomas, County Attorney.

The Stapley investigation and charges seem to clearly stem from a vendetta by arpaio and thomas. History shows that anyone known to have crossed arpaio will pay in some way eventually. I don't care for Mr. Stapley, in fact I fully supported his opposition, Joel Sinclaire, in the last election. However, I also can't condone this action by arpaio and thomas. Yes, I agree, thomas needs to be removed from the prosecution process and any further proceedings in the case need to be moved out of Maricopa County.

A bit off topic, but am I the only one noticing a strange silence over the past couple days from the 'Shurf' after the escape of a violent, convicted child rapist from Maricopa Court facilities? Not a picture, a sound bite, or a phrase has been uttered by arpaio this entire time. Is he out of country, perhaps Honduras, on a training mission and doesn't know about this? Or is his 'illegal sweeps' team planning their next raid on corn vendors and he simply doesn't have the time to talk about catching escaped baby rapers?

In the mean time, MCSO lackeys are facing the press, just as they did last year when A HORRIBLE murder occurred in MCSO jail facilities and was ignored by a Detention Officer who was charged with watching video monitors of inmate activity.

arpaio had his face in the camera on the 14th (Valentine's Day) when MCSO did the deadbeat parent roundup and said something about the "decent thing to do". How would arpaio know about doing anything decent?

Has anyone seen arpaio? Does anyone care?

TommyC1
TommyC1

Sarah, you are quickly becoming a journalistic hero!

"the importation of a corrupt culture. South of the border, you have a governmental system that allows and sometimes encourages bribery of local officials."

It's interesting that the newest member of Phoenix city council would have written this, even just two or so years ago. I would expect that if Mr. DiCiccio has been paying attention in Arizona over at least the past five years he has seen a culture of corruption right here in Maricopa County, such as the way the 'Shurf' behaves, along with his twin sister, Andrew Thomas, County Attorney.

The Stapley investigation and charges seem to clearly stem from a vendetta by arpaio and thomas. History shows that anyone known to have crossed arpaio will pay in some way eventually. I don't care for Mr. Stapley, in fact I fully supported his opposition, Joel Sinclaire, in the last election. However, I also can't condone this action by arpaio and thomas. Yes, I agree, thomas needs to be removed from the prosecution process and any further proceedings in the case need to be moved out of Maricopa County.

A bit off topic, but am I the only one noticing a strange silence over the past couple days from the 'Shurf' after the escape of a violent, convicted child rapist from Maricopa Court facilities? Not a picture, a sound bite, or a phrase has been uttered by arpaio this entire time. Is he out of country, perhaps Honduras, on a training mission and doesn't know about this? Or is his 'illegal sweeps' team planning their next raid on corn vendors and he simply doesn't have the time to talk about catching escaped baby rapers?

In the mean time, MCSO lackeys are facing the press, just as they did last year when A HORRIBLE murder occurred in MCSO jail facilities and was ignored by a Detention Officer who was charged with watching video monitors of inmate activity.

arpaio had his face in the camera on the 14th (Valentine's Day) when MCSO did the deadbeat parent roundup and said something about the "decent thing to do". How would arpaio know about doing anything decent?

Has anyone seen arpaio? Does anyone care?

truthseeker
truthseeker

Sarah, good job! You are courageous and doing a much needed public service exposing the abuse of power which never ends in the Maricopa County Attorney's office with Thomas leading the way, and his enablers who keep him propped up. Thomas has a conflict of interest when he goes after his own client, the MCBOS. MCBOS should retain their own legal counsel.

 
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