It's been a blue moon or two since I gave much thought to Phoenix attorney Carmen Fischer, wife of Angel Garcia, imprisoned honcho of the New Mexican Mafia, an Arizona prison gang that takes its name from the more notorious, California-based eMe, or Mexican Mafia.
But along comes a press release Friday afternoon from the Pinal County Attorney's Office, announcing that Fischer, like her already imprisoned hubby, is now behind bars, facing 47 counts, including fraud, money laundering, and using a wire for a drug or organized crime offense.
According to the release, seven agencies working in concert arrested Fischer and four other women Friday, in an indictment that also hit Garcia -- currently cooling his heels in a Florence prison -- with 159 counts ranging from drug crimes and money laundering to solicitation of murder and assisting a criminal street gang.
The release states, in part, that:
Angel Garcia's indictment accuses him of being a validated member and leader within a large prison gang, with gang-related ties spanning back to 1995. The document continues to allege Garcia directed drug sales, extortion, fraud, money laundering and homicide while in federal and state prison, and used other gang members and associates to facilitate these offenses.
Fischer is identified in her charging document as practicing criminal law in Phoenix since the 1980's and defended several gang cases prior to representing Angel Garcia. With Fischer's abilities and access to information, the indictments accuse Garcia of feigning affection for her and asked her to marry him, which she did in July of 2011. Her indictment states that before and after they married, Fischer deposited thousands of dollars into Garcia's prison accounts.
PCAO spokesman Jim Knupp told me that Fischer was arrested by the MCSO, which currently has custody of the woman. However, Pinal County will be pursuing the charges against her.
Regarding the other four women charged with 102 similar counts, the release paraphrases the indictment, with words that might apply to Fischer herself, if she's found guilty:
"Public records indicate the other four, Rosio Robles Gonzales, Oralia L. Garcia, and Tanya Garcia-Ochoa, of Phoenix, and Rosemary Ann Garcia, of Bisbee, are believed to be female associates within the gang. Their indictments state female associates are commonly used to facilitate the collection, holding and distribution of money, assist in the packaging and shipment of drugs and contraband, pass and forward mail and messages and often act as go-betweens conducting some gang business to better shield it from law enforcement."
(Other news outlets have identified these women as Garcia's girlfriend, mother, sister and ex-wife, respectively.)
Way back in 2011, I first reported on how Fischer had turned Mexican Mafia moll, marrying her client Garcia while he was in a federal pen in Inez, Kentucky, doing time on a weapons conviction.
She was 56, he was 32.
Garcia's rap sheet includes a drive-by shooting, various gang-related and drug charges as well as charges stemming from his involvement in a car chase that led to a Phoenix cop being shot through the neck.
In 2011, I noted that that, "law enforcement sources believe Garcia, doing time in an Arizona pen for a prison assault and facing state charges of money-laundering and running drugs, has ordered as many as 10 people whacked (though he never has been charged with these crimes)."
When I wrote about the Garcia-Fischer romance, Garcia had been returned to Arizona to do time for charges here.
The marriage had an almost instant impact on Fischer's career, with the U.S. District Court for Arizona dropping her name from a list of lawyers who are paid by the feds to represent indigent clients.
Her marriage to Garcia also had begun to get her in hot water with the State Bar of Arizona.
One of Fischer's clients, a former associate of Garcia's, filed a bar complaint alleging a conflict of interest as she had been romantically involved with Garcia while at the same time representing him.
According to bar spokesman Rick DeBruhl, an order of probable cause finally was issued in April of this year, and in May, the bar filed a formal complaint against Fischer, with serious allegations of wrongdoing on her part.
As the original complaint dates back to 2010, why did it take so long? DeBruhl did not respond immediately to this query, but it may be that the allegations in the bar complaint took a back seat to the criminal investigation.
In the bar complaint, Fischer's disgruntled former client alleged that Fischer tipped him off as to "the identity of informants police were using against him," by showing him various court documents, to which he might not otherwise have had access.
Fischer also allegedly gave her client a heads up that he was under surveillance related to drug charges, and that the cops likely would soon come calling, which did indeed happen.
"Complainant got rid of all criminal evidence in his possession before search warrant could be executed and served," reads the bar complaint. "With the information [Fischer] provided, Complainant avoided his own arrest and the arrest of others."
The most serious of the bar allegations involves a New Mexican Mafia member named Jeremy Kent.
The bar complaint reads:
109. MM member Jeremy Kent shot and tried to kill a Glendale Police Officer.
110. Kent gave the gun to Complainant to dispose of.
111. Complainant cooperated with the police in prosecuting Kent.
112. According to a Phoenix Police Department report, [another prisoner] told detectives that Kent told Gaines about plans to "dust" Complainant and others.
113. [The prisoner] said that Kent spoke to [Fischer] from jail utilizing legal phone calls and that she shared "restricted" information with Kent and other members of the MM which could result in the assassination or targeting of informants.
114. According to Complainant, Garcia ordered Complainant's murder.
115. In December 2009 Ruben Valdez (Garcia's cousin) and victor Hernandez went to a location where Complainant had been staying within minutes of complainant leaving.
116. According to Complainant, Valdez and Hernandez were looking for him and had guns.
117. Complainant contacted the Phoenix Police Department and Detective Clint Davis made arrests.
Normally, the next step, according to DeBruhl, would be for these allegations to go to a formal hearing.
This is not the first time Fischer has risked all for the love of a convict. In 1999, she made headlines when she was caught playing doctor with an imprisoned double murderer, who, like Garcia, was her client.
As I wrote in 2011, "News accounts told of Fischer wearing short skirts for the benefit of her client, and they salaciously quote jail reports of the lady lawyer having her `skirt hiked up and her legs spread' as [the convict] was 'leaning toward her with his right hand reaching between her legs.'"
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There was even some footage of the encounter, which made the local TV news (natch).
But Fischer weathered that controversy, somehow, with her bar license unscathed.
This time around, possible bar discipline looks to be the least of her worries.