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A Goodyear Family's Suit Against Jack Rose Claims He Lined His Own Pockets Instead of Developing Their Property

For a time, Jack Rose was the most notorious person in Arizona government.

I know, I know: You've never heard of him. But even if he's forgotten, the damage was clearly done. Rose's selfish actions not only left the taxpayers on the hook for an unprecedented $60 million jury verdict, but also ended the career of the politician stupid enough to hire him. Arizona Corporation Commissioner Jim Irvin had been a rising star in GOP circles, but by the time Rose was done with him, Irvin was forced to resign from office just to avoid impeachment.

The fascinating thing is that Commissioner Irvin's chief misdeed — interfering with the sale of a huge utility that he was supposedly regulating — didn't net him a penny. Irvin wasn't trying to get rich. He was just trying to help his buddy and former employee, Jack Rose, who'd set himself up to make millions if the utility was sold to an Oklahoma firm instead of one in Pennsylvania. Unlike Irvin, Rose did want to get rich . . . and he was willing to screw utility company shareholders, Arizona ratepayers, and the principles of good government to do it.

Even though Rose's scheme ended in debacle, he was never punished for it. The report recommending Irvin's impeachment, penned by a former U.S. Attorney, is devastating in its details of Rose's machinations, but he was never indicted. Nor did he ever suffer much of a financial penalty.

With a history like that, you'd think Jack Rose would never work in this town again. You'd think, among politicians, he'd be radioactive.

Right.

Today, just five years after Commissioner Irvin was forced to resign, Rose can count plenty of friends in high places. He's been a major backer of David Schweikert, the Republican candidate for the East Valley congressional seat held by Harry Mitchell. Rose, his employees, and relatives have kicked in a combined $21,200 to Schweikert's campaign, and he calls Schweikert a "friend." (Though Schweikert resists that label, his campaign says it appreciates Rose's support.)

And sources tell me that Rose has become something of a kingmaker in the West Valley. He's been a generous donor to suburban politicians of every stripe. At least twice, he flew several Goodyear city officials on a chartered private jet. Also in Goodyear, one of his businesses hired the mayor's wife; in another, he signed up a councilman as his partner.

As it turns out, in the wake of the Irvin scandal, Jack Rose set out for the fertile farmland of southwestern Maricopa County. His grandfather was a homesteader there back in the day, he explains.

There, Rose persuaded landowners to entrust him with selling and/or developing their property. He also made friends with plenty of politicians.

But while Rose lived high for a while — see: that private jet — some people in the West Valley believe that his empire may be headed for collapse.

The catalyst for much of the chatter is a lawsuit filed last month by a prominent Goodyear family, Rose's former business partners. Their suit says they trusted Rose when he promised to develop their property. Instead, they claim, he lined his own pockets, to the point that the project is now in bankruptcy.

And this isn't just any project. It's Major League Baseball — specifically, spring training stadiums for the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.

I talked to nearly a dozen people with connections in the West Valley, and combed through a host of documents related to Rose and his business dealings. I also got a chance to talk to Rose.

What I found was a case of déjà vu, with Rose once again cleverly calling the shots.

The big difference: This time, everyone involved should have known better.


Siblings Ken, Pug, and Margaret Wood grew up in a 240-acre farm at the corner of Estrella Parkway and McDowell Road in Goodyear. Adjacent to the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport, the area became posh suburbia overnight.

In 2004, the Woods hired Rose and his company, now called Civica, to help them cash in.

And so you'd assume that when the city of Goodyear selected the Wood farm as the spot for spring training facilities for two major-league teams, the family got rich.

In fact, while stadium construction continues, the $38 million loan that Rose arranged for the development is in default. In August, the Woods' limited liability company filed for bankruptcy.

Not surprisingly, the Woods blame Rose. They're suing him as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, alleging that he fraudulently concealed the true cost of the project, breached their agreements and his fiduciary duty, and was negligent.

The language is harsh: "Jack Rose and the Civica Entities breached the trust the Wood Entities placed in them. [Rose and Civica] negotiated and agreed to terms in the City Agreements with the City of Goodyear that are detrimental to the Wood Entities, commercially unreasonable, and in breach of the Civica Entities' obligation to manage the development in good faith."

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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske