A Child Protective Services employee was arrested in a plot to hinder the prosecution of her boyfriend, a Mexican Mafia gangster, who was convicted of second-degree murder last month.
The employee, 62-year-old Elida Perez, "has a long history of association with criminal street gangs," according to court documents obtained by New Times.
As the result of a public-records request, the Arizona Department of Economic Security, which oversees CPS, says that Perez's job title is "Administrative Assistant II" In her position, which she's held since September 2011, the agency says she "does not have direct contact with children."
Prior to her arrest, Perez's "longtime" boyfriend, Marcos Mendoza -- who's 30 years younger than her -- murdered a man named Manuel Chavarria, on April 1, 2012.
According to information from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, it looked like Mendoza killed Chavarria after an argument. Mendoza and Chavarria got into an altercation at a convenience store near 19th Street and Roosevelt, and Mendoza shot Chavarria several times.
Police later discovered that Chavarria's name was on multiple Mexican Mafia hit-lists that were recovered in state prisons.
In jailhouse phone conversations, Mendoza told Perez to get witnesses to give false testimony in court, although court documents indicate the shooting was caught on video "to some degree."
Two people ended up giving false testimony in court, according to police -- including the girlfriend of another locked-up Mexican Mafia gangster -- although Perez's boyfriend was still convicted of murder on May 15.
On one hand, it might seem like Perez was just trying to help her boyfriend stay out of prison. Perez has a clean court record, according to state records, other than collecting traffic tickets over the years.
On the other hand, police paint a picture of Perez providing "criminal support of the Arizona Mexican Mafia."
According to court documents, Perez "has a long history of association with criminal street gangs and on no less than two occasions, firearms were pointed at police officers from her residence."
As police have served "multiple" search warrants at her house, "extreme amounts" of gang graffiti covered the walls inside.
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Perez -- who has her own street name, "Cookie" -- has a "higher understanding of criminal street gangs than the normal person," police allege, and she also has two children "affiliated" with street gangs in the Phoenix area, according to court filings.
A grand jury has indicted Perez on charges of perjury and hindering prosecution. Perez, who makes a meager state government salary, is being represented by a private attorney, according to court records.
According to the County Attorney's Office, Mendoza faces 27 years in prison at his July 19 sentencing.