The Maricopa County Anti-Corruption Effort, a.k.a. MACE, finally bagged an actual criminal. Make that a family of criminals.
MACE, created by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas, seems generally designed to bludgeon political opponents. But this is one case in which smoke really did become fire. It involves a dirty west Valley fire chief who embezzled tens of thousands of dollars in public funds. No big names here, except for the name of the fire district: Harquahala. It covers 432 square miles west of Phoenix, says the district's Web site.
The former chief, Randal Long (pictured), his son Carl, wife Sandra and bookkeeper Kim Vigil, recently pleaded guilty to theft.
All but the chief face probation at their sentencing. Randal Long is looking at a possible two years in prison -- and he already knows he has to pay $250,000 in restitution. The county attorney's office says Long stole money here and there over a few years. His biggest take: $55,000 in district money that he was supposed to spend on construction materials.
If only all of MACE's investigations were this legit.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.