Maricopa County Craziness

Andrew Thomas Wusses Out of Disbarment Appeal; Judge May Order County to Pay Mary Rose Wilcox; Conley Wolfswinkel Wins Again

Here's a quick rundown on Maricopa County news today:

* Andrew Peyton Thomas, former Maricopa County Attorney, failed politician and author of right-wing books, won't appeal a state Supreme Court Disciplinary Panel's decision to cancel his law license. We've cut-and-pasted his wussyish comments about being railroaded below.

As Thomas explained in a guffaw-inducing news conference recently, in which he compared himself to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, he's hard at work on a new book about the "corrupt" forces in Arizona he believes are responsible for his downfall. If he ever manages to get it published, our advice is to wait a few weeks -- sellers on will be giving away new copies at bargain-basement prices, like they do for his other books.

The disbarments of Thomas and his former deputy prosecutor, Lisa Aubuchon, will become final on May 10 without a stay from the Arizona Supreme Court. Aubuchon, who's already filed for an appeal, has asked for a stay of disbarment until the appeal process is exhausted; that motion has yet to be ruled upon.

* Conley Wolfwinkel, the millionaire developer convicted in 1993 for writing bad checks ($200 million worth), received good news today from the Arizona Court of Appeals -- he doesn't have to pay a $171 million court judgment. A trial court ruled in 2008 that he didn't have to pay the judgment in the complex case of a land deal gone bad. Plaintiffs in the case, including former America West Airlines chief Bill Franke and lawyer Leo Beus, had appealed that ruling.

Wolfswinkel became a key side-story in the trumped-up allegations brought by Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio against county leaders, judges and lawyers. The developer was named in the poorly evidenced federal racketeering lawsuit launched by Thomas and Arpaio. As part of Arpaio's investigation into County Supervisor Don Stapley, and an office linked to him was raided by deputies.

As New Times detailed in an article last year, one of Arpaio's top-ranking deputy chiefs believed that Arpaio's ulterior motive in the raid was to generate publicity.

The Beus and company case against Wolfwinkel, some New Times sources believed, may have spurred Thomas to seek an indictment against Stapley.

Read today's Arizona Court of Appeals decision here -- as soon as you've had your late-afternoon triple-shot of espresso.

* U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake is considering whether or not to order Maricopa County to pay Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox a $975,000 settlement. Wilcox, one of the victims of Thomas and Arpaio's discredited crusade, claims the settlement's a done deal and demands the money.

County Attorney Bill Montgomery, citing Arizona law, says that at least one County Supervisor and the County Treasurer, "Hos" Hoskins, must sign off on the payment before the check is cut.

Supervisors Andrew Kunasek and Max Wilson, both of whom are running for re-election, have publicly stated they won't agree to the settlement. Stapley's got a conflict of interest, since he's also suing the county for the actions of Thomas and Arpaio. That leaves Fulton Brock, who told the Arizona Republic today he is "leaning toward" not approving the settlement.

Meanwhile, in a ruling today Wake ordered that he wants lawyers for the county and Wilcox to let him know by 5 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) their proposed schedule for "accelerated briefing and argument" on Wilcox's motion to enforce the potential settlement.

Thomas' statement as to why he won't his disbarment is below:

I have decided not to appeal the ruling that took my law license. My accusers, the Board of Supervisors, once again have fired my lawyers, ensuring I cannot properly defend myself or my anti-corruption efforts. Also, because of the extensive relationships between the Supreme Court and the judges and officials I've sued or prosecuted, the court cannot possibly be impartial and will only rubberstamp the railroad job I have just been through.

Though I have suffered a grave injustice, this sacrifice was not in vain. I promise, before God and my community, to seek reforms so that the powerful and corrupt are no longer above the law.

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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.
Contact: Ray Stern