Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas forwarded the criminal cases of Mary Rose Wilcox and Don Stapley to Gila County today, ending his quest to hire a special prosecutor.
Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores has agreed to accept the cases, Thomas wrote in a short news release, (see full text below).
The move comes one week after a Pima County judge spanked Thomas for his conflicts of interest in the cases. Following the bluntly worded ruling by Judge John Leonardo, Thomas made a half-hearted effort to try to get the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to approve a special prosecutor of his choosing.
But county leaders stood firm, and the courts refused to support Thomas, despite a line in Leonardo's written ruling that said Thomas "may appoint" a special prosecutor.
As New Times writer Sarah Fenske explains in her column this week, claims by Thomas' office that he could appoint a special prosecutor and remain neutral are simply unbelievable.
The criminal cases sure have done a lot of traveling in the past few months.
Astute readers will realize that this only affects the second of two cases against Stapley; the first one is still under appeal by Yavapai County.
Following Stapley's September arrest, Yavapai also reviewed the second Stapley case and an investigation of Wilcox. But -- as we know from testimony from Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk -- Thomas took the cases back when Polk didn't do his bidding.
The cases were briefly reviewed by a pair of super-expensive attorneys from Washington D.C. and two local prosecutors. But the Board of Supervisors, including Stapley and Wilcox, thwarted Thomas' attempts to hire them.
A grand jury indicted Stapley a second time in December, along with Mary Rose Wilcox. Thomas' own people would do this one, he decided. Maricopa Presiding Judge Barbara Mundell, though, wanted an out-of-county judge to oversee the cases, and gave them to Leonardo -- who subsequently kicked Thomas off the Wilcox case and dismissed the charges against her.
We don't know that much about Flores, besides the fact that she's a Republican, like Thomas and Polk.
Full text of Thomas' news release follows:
Criminal investigations involving County Supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox will be handled by Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores.
The Maricopa County Attorney's Office has for months sought to have outside prosecutors address these matters, yet the Board of Supervisors has delayed and obstructed these appointments at every turn.
While the County Attorney's Office has the right to appoint special prosecutors, we want to put an end to the needless and costly delays associated with the Board's actions.
Therefore, we are sending the Stapley II matter, and the case against Mary Rose Wilcox to the Gila County Attorney's Office. We thank Gila County Attorney Flores for her consideration of these serious matters.