newspaper stories from the early 2000s, Maricopa County finally took action against shady county supervisor Don Stapley.
A grand jury has indicted Stapley on 118 criminal counts, alleging he failed to publicly disclose land deals and other business activities going back to when he was first elected in 1994. The charges include perjury, forgery, false swearing, and filing incomplete or false financial disclosure forms.
New Times covered some of Stapley's questionable real estate deals in a 2000 feature article by former staff writer John Dougherty. The article covers the state Department of Real Estate's investigations of Stapley in the mid-1990s over a Pinal County dispute about subdivisions of Stapley's land, and also delves into questions concerning Stapley's residential property tax valuation.
The East Valley Tribune also ran a lengthy piece in the late 1990s on Stapley's questionable land deals (maybe someone over there will dig it out and post it online).
Though the news release by the County Attorney's Office mentions that some of the alleged offenses go back to 1994, it cites several specific problems from more recent years.
In one alleged instance, Stapley took $550,000 from his personal checking account and deposited the money in two investment accounts, one in his name and the other in the name of one of his businesses -- but he never mentioned it in disclosure forms required of a public official, the release states.
In his release, County Attorney Andrew Thomas states:
As a result of his failure to disclose companies he has been doing business with and his personal and business accounts, the public has not been able to assess whether any conflict of interest existed as Stapley regularly made decisions on land development, rights of way, and purchases of county property.
The investigation, still ongoing, is being handled by a joint anti-corruption effort of Thomas' office and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. The task force, Operation MACE, has been criticized itself for dubious investigations, so we can only hope for the sake of both the public and the accused that they are getting this one right.
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The East Valley Tribune reports tonight that Stapley denies the accusations as "baseless," and that he's "disappointed" in the charges. The Trib also links to Stapley's most current financial disclosure statement (in case you want to take a peek).
A powerful, sitting county supervisor. Land deals. An avalanche of criminal counts.
Looks like we've got an Arizona scandal of the first order brewing here. -- Ray Stern