So much for Aubuchon's brand-new discovery.

Not surprisingly, that appeal was denied, too. And that was pretty much the end, because Thomas had nowhere else to appeal the matter.

But the wound apparently festered.

In December 2009 — nearly six months after Thomas' final appeal was rejected and nearly year after the original subpoena — Thomas' office filed its racketeering claim, alleging that Judge Donahoe, Irvine, his law partner Novak, the five county supervisors, and a few extra judges were part of a "criminal enterprise."

This "criminal enterprise," however, didn't occupy itself with the usual criminal pursuits: dealing drugs, fencing contraband, running a protection racket.

They'd conspired to — gasp! — build a courthouse.

"This action," Deputy County Attorney Aubuchon harrumphed, "arises from a concerted scheme to hinder the criminal investigation and prosecution of elected officials and employees of Maricopa County . . . related to the funding and construction of the Maricopa County Superior Court Tower."

One week after the racketeering suit was filed, Aubuchon dropped the biggest bombshell of all.

She filed a criminal complaint against Judge Donahoe, charging him with felony counts of bribery, obstructing a criminal investigation, and hindering prosecution.

According to the "probable cause statement" Aubuchon attached to the complaint, Donahoe's criminal behavior consisted of the following actions:

• He refused to see that he had a conflict on the court tower project and should have stepped off the case.

• He refused to remove Irvine and Novak from representing the county on the case, despite their supposed conflict. "Judge Donahoe failed to see that a conflict existed or that allowing Irvine and Novak to appear before him could raise an appearance of impropriety," Aubuchon huffed.

• He insisted on removing Thomas from prosecuting the case and stopped him from getting the records in question.

• In three other cases, he ruled against the Sheriff's Office or the county attorney.

At a press conference, Thomas struggled to explain how, exactly, those actions added up to a charge of bribery.

Arizona has a "very broad" definition of bribery, he said. He added a plea for help to the media scrum: "If I'm not explaining this well, I hope you'll help me."

But despite his inability to explain the charges his own office had issued against Judge Donahoe, Thomas still sounded a defiant note.

The court tower investigation, he vowed, would go on.

"We are going to get to the bottom of this, and we are not going to be obstructed anymore," he warned.


It's funny, really, to think that Andrew Thomas still imagines he can get to the bottom of anything.

He's lost case after case: Virtually every indictment he's brought against another public official has resulted in dismissal or defeat. He's also lost most of his civil division — and, with it, the ability to hit up law firms seeking county work for campaign contributions. Perhaps as a result, his campaign for Arizona Attorney General is flagging. So far, he's been able to raise just $25,000.

And for all the sound and fury Thomas brought to his December filings against Donahoe and all the alleged "racketeers" in county government, the cases have had little legal success to date.

At this point, the charges against Donahoe are on hold. The judge assigned to the case ruled that Donahoe would likely prevail in his attempt to disqualify Thomas from the case. That's spared Judge Donahoe the indignity of being fingerprinted and booked like a common criminal.

The racketeering lawsuit, meanwhile, is faring no better. Thomas pulled his usual bulldog, Aubuchon, off the case and appointed another deputy county attorney, Rachel Alexander, to handle it. Alexander is a conservative blogger not known for her experience on high-profile criminal matters; indeed, she was transferred to the Major Crimes Unit just one week before handed the complicated racketeering case.

So far, Alexander seems badly in over her head. She missed a key deadline. She's been outmatched — and, in this case, that's hardly her fault. She's up against some of the Valley's top defense lawyers, and (thanks to the multiple defendants on the case) she's been forced to fight off a half-dozen of them at once.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors have convened a grand jury to examine allegations that Arpaio and Thomas have abused their power. Both County Manager David Smith and his top deputy, Sandi Wilson, have testified.

But the whisper campaign against the court tower has continued apace. The narrative pushed by Thomas' people is still that the county supervisors and administrators have something to hide — why else block Thomas and Arpaio? Why not turn over those records that Thomas demanded back in December 2008?

The crazy part is, they did.

Yes, the county fought the subpoena that Thomas and Aubuchon issued in December. But just a few weeks after the subpoena, the Sheriff's Office employed one of its favored tools and put in a public-records request for nearly the exact same records. Interestingly, the sheriff's request was quickly followed by a near-identical request from Thomas' favorite reporter over at Channel 15.

The county decided against fighting either request, Wilson says.

It wasn't simple. Much like the subpoenas, the requests weren't focused on anything particular. The sheriff wanted all contracts and all procurement documents. It wanted detailed budgets and e-mails and requests for proposals.

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14 comments
Mike Powell
Mike Powell

I have always thought that the use of marijuana was illegal in Arizona, however it seems that our City/County officials have been partaking liberally. Seriously, how does one graduate from Law school ( I assume Mr. Thomas did so ) and not know that you can't have it both ways? Also, rgtqwhere is the evidence of wrongdoing? Isn't application of the law based on facts and evidence, or is it just the whim of a disgruntled attorney?

FromAfar
FromAfar

correction to above: Ben you sent a mixed message. Note, I was speaking about the court tower. Thomas and Arpaio abuse of power has overcrowded the courts, the jails and the prisons -- therefore a Court Tower is needed. It's a result of the mass incarceration of Arizona's people by Thomas, Arpaio and Sen. Russell Pearce who writes the bills for them.

Abuse of power reigns terror over the state and the Troika needs to be sent to the prisons they created -- now all privatized. Follow the money....

FromAfar
FromAfar

Ben from Wind Gap -- You nailed it!!

Ben
Ben

Apparently there is a need for more court space because of the illegal immigration influx coupled with the rising event of home grown crime which will get worse as the economy gets worse. Therefore it doesn�t make sense to cut the sheriff and other enforcement budgets unless you are trying to slowdown the enforcement of the laws that is keeping the immigration and other law enforcement problems from sprawling into a problem that will consume even more of the budget along, property values, school cost and general quality of life.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

clarification: They prey on the ignorant masses to get re-elected, while taking down those who challenge them, the intelligent and brightest in Maricopa County.

Arizona needs to add Civics classes in the school and learn about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and how to protect themselves from abuse of power by a government that is out of control.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

Outstanding investigative reporting! Sarah, you certainly captured the essence of what corruption looks like in Maricopa County. They prey on the ignorant masses.

j.WINSTON
j.WINSTON

Arpiao and Thomas are jokes..but they are dangerous jokes as they can wield the judicial system like a weapon...when will the public figures in our county and state get the courage to expose them for what they are follow-up with legal proceedings for all their scandals...why is everyone so scared. We are a major city not a back water town where the judge and the prosecutor and the sheriff are all half brothers.Hopefully Thomas will run in the primaries and lose and that way we will get him out of office early. And hopefully Arpaio wil finally be found guilty on at least one of the numerous abuses he has perpetrated only the citizens of Maricopa..I agree with one of the other comments..it is Twilight Zone or rather Reason Free Zone

(S)He's a very manipulative ma
(S)He's a very manipulative ma

a)Wilson about Hendershottb)Sheila Polk and Don Stapley about Arpaioc)Supervisors,Tom Irvine about Thomasd)Judge Donhue and Ed Novak about Ms. Aubuchoune) all of the above.The correct answer is e) all of the above. Hendershott, Arpaio, Thomas, and Lisa Aubuchoun (who acts like a man)are all manipulative as hell. VOTERS wake up. Thomas wants to bring this nonsense to the entire state.

Pete Snow
Pete Snow

Alexander doesn't have time to do her job, she is too busy blogging about the Tower over on the Sonoran Alliance Blog.

Spartacus
Spartacus

Every Time I drive up to Phoenix from Cochise County I expect to see Rod Serling standing along I-10 in a dark suit, looking slightly sinister and mischevious,with cigarette smoke swirling around him. (all in black and white, of course)Mr. Serling, if he were alive today, could doubtless offer a witty and sardonic discourse on Maricopa County that enable wannabe dictators to trample on the constitution and intimidate all who disagree with them, he might say, "You are now entering the valley of the delusional, where political sorcerers practice the black arts of race-baiting and character assassination. It's a Bizarre, Never-Never Land of snake oil politics and strutting demogauges, otherwise known as...THE TWILIGHT ZONE...

Mike Wells
Mike Wells

Whoo Hoo!!

I'm comin' back Arizona!! I'll be the next Maricopa County Attorney, since you obviously don't need to know the law to get the job.

Either that, or Thomas is playing everybody for the fool here. Here seriously didn't think that having his office both prosecute and defend THE SAME CASE would be a conflict of interest? Seriously? And then he thinks he can bring up a judge on charges, citing conflict of interest because that same judge 'might someday have an office in the new court building'? You have GOT to be kidding me.

Add in all the lying they've been caught doing in court and I can't understand why this case is even being allowed to continue.

Arpaio and Thomas are two of the reasons that I'm glad I got out of Arizona, but the politicians here in Utah are pretty nutty, too, so it's not really a total win in my book.

Lisa
Lisa

Who is this scumbag Bernstein? Aren't journalists supposed to have some kind of standards?

Marcy
Marcy

The sad thing about this entire sordid affair is that it has exposed just how delusional a large segment of Maricopa County voters are.

They'd vote for a rabid serial killer if the serial killer promised to arrest a few illegal immigrants.

They utterly fail to understand what history has taught us, tyrants come into power not by guns but with the full blessing of a deluded populace.

 
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