Maricopa County Craziness

Andrew Thomas: County Supervisors and Judges Were "Openly Thumbing Their Nose at the Law"

Andrew Thomas certainly seems to believe his own theories as he defends himself today against a State Bar complaint that could cost him his law license.

In the former Maricopa County Attorney's world, County Supervisor Don Stapley is "corrupt," whose motive to commit crimes was the money he was being paid by Conley Wolfswinkle, a developer with a felony record.

He says a judge deliberately held up a request his office made to take another judge, whom Thomas says was biased, off the first Stapley criminal case. Various judges acted in "concert" to "essentially provide protection" for Stapley. A warning by a retired judge working for the State Bar that Thomas was dangerously close to a violation of conflict-of-interest rules was "intimidating" him.

"I thought we were seeing a travesty unfolding in our courts," Thomas told the Bar's disciplinary panel and State Bar independent counsel Jamie Sudler.

He compared what he saw to "Third World" governments.

Thomas was very concerned about all sorts of matters involving a cabal of county officials, judges, bureaucrats and local lawyers, he explained while on the stand.

One of those things was a "tip" he'd heard about now-retired Judge Barbara Mundell being "pressured" by Stapley to hire lawyer Tom Irvine as a "space planner" for a new court tower under construction.

Irvine made a small fortune for the job, apparently. But as we learned from Thomas' co-defendant in the trial-like Bar proceeding, Lisa Aubuchon, the county attorney's office believed Irvine was scamming the county even though Irvine has extensive experience as a construction lawyer.

Thomas said his chief assistant, Phil MacDonnell, relayed to him the tip about Mundell. MacDonnell, in turn, had heard it from lawyer Jack LaSota, who testified this week that he didn't know where he heard it from.

Sounds like a bunch of BS, right? Well, not to Thomas. It's one of the sandy foundations to his theorized grand conspiracy, outlined in a racketeering case eventually filed against his political enemies.

Thomas said he couldn't recall if he knew how LaSota found out about the tip.


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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.