Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has verbally spanked a pack of loony dog lovers who are pushing for animal-cruelty charges to be refiled in the Green Acre dog boarding case.
During a regularly scheduled press conference Wednesday, Montgomery explained why he wouldn't meet with the Green Acre lynch mob last week, a decision that resulted in a demonstration against him on the steps of his office in downtown Phoenix by dog wackos and their supporters.
"In trying to understand the almost myopic focus on one set of defendants," he told reporters, "the only point I can now conclude...is that this is just an effort to further their civil suit and identify deep pockets."
Starting at 23:43, Monty addresses the Green Acre lynch mob
No doubt the deep pockets Monty was referring to belong to the family of U.S. Senator Jeff Flake.
The senator's son and daughter-in-law, Austin and Logan Flake, were watching the Green Acre Dog Boarding facility in June, while the business' owners, MaLeisa and Todd Hughes, were away for a week.
"The relative differences in relationships between the defendants and the families and the dog owners involved is very distinct and different," Montgomery continued. "So I think [that] but for somebody's last name, the hype and the hysteria [over this case] wouldn't exist."
Local DUI attorney John Schill filed suit in superior court back in September against the Flake couple and the Hugheses, seeking unspecified damages on behalf of the owners of more than 20 dogs who died from heatstroke at the Gilbert business.
The dogs had been left in a nine-by-12-foot room overnight, as most had been on previous nights without incident.
However, in the early morning hours of June 20, the air-conditioner for the room ceased to work properly, according to Salt River Project utility records.
After a high-profile investigation by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office, the Hugheses and the Flakes were hit with numerous felony and misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
But almost all those were dismissed in December after the Flakes' attorneys, Jack and Dennis Wilenchik, alleged that Arpaio's lead investigator lied to the grand jury.
Montgomery said his office still is reviewing the case. The Hugheses still face a fraud charge.
The county attorney said he's met with Schill and the dog owners before.
But Montgomery says information he gave the dog owners and Schill in private meetings ended up on social media. Also, he seemed to find the actions of Schill and some of the dog nuts disingenuous and in certain cases, bizarre.
Montgomery said he spent 45 minutes with Schill explaining his decision to dismiss most of the charges, "only to have [Schill] then turn around and on camera [say] he didn't understand" the decision.
"So either he lied when he told me he understood and didn't have any other questions or concerns, or he forgot in just a few hours," Montgomery said.
The attempts to pressure the MCAO into prosecuting the Flakes has a potential payoff for Schill and the dog owners.
"It works this way," Montgomery explained, "under Arizona law, each necessary element that makes up a criminal conviction is deemed admitted in any subsequent civil case. So the demand to have certain people prosecuted and convicted would further seeking civil judgment."
Which would explain certain grotesque tactics meant to inflame the public and to influence Montgomery's office by exploiting sentiment and emotion.
"[They're] parading children in front of cameras with framed pictures of their pets," observed Monty of one recent press conference held by Schill. "I don't see that in gruesome civil cases."
Montgomery also mentioned a letter purportedly from a special-needs boy who lost his dog at Green Acre.
Before a planned meeting with the dog owners and Schill last week, Montgomery said he was e-mailed the letter.
Later, it was posted to the pooch kook Facebook site, "The Tragedy at Green Acre Dog Boarding Gilbert, AZ."
"In advance of that meeting...I received an email at 9 in the morning purporting to have been written by a 13-year-old special-needs child. [Because of the] verbiage in it, I question whether he really wrote it someone else wrote for him.
"[W]ithin an hour...that same letter [was] posted on Facebook and then Tweeted out for everybody else's consumption. It was at that point I made the decision that I was gonna cancel the meeting.
"I'm not going to permit the criminal justice system to further somebody civil case, and I'm not going to contribute to the kind of hysteria and really what I think is irresponsible conduct by the attorney in question."
In case you're interested, I've reproduced the letter below.
Monty deserves kudos for calling out the dog owners and Schill for their maudlin antics.
While calumny has been heaped upon the Flakes and the Hugheses, Schill's actions and the actions of the dog owners and their advocates have gotten a free pass, for the most part.
Maybe that's starting to change.Stephen Lemons.