Maricopa County Craziness

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

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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.

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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