Carmen Fischer, a criminal-defense attorney in Phoenix, has been sentenced to three years in prison for crimes related to helping her husband, a leader of the New Mexican Mafia prison gang.
Fischer was arrested last year and charged in Pinal County, accused of helping her husband Angel Garcia, also known as Chipas, by passing along privileged information she had about the gang, and also helping move money around for the gang.
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Our colleague Stephen Lemons wrote about the relationship back in 2011. Fischer had represented gang members before, and ended up representing Garcia, who had an extensive criminal history thanks to his activities with the New Mexican Mafia (which is different from the notorious Mexican Mafia, but the same kind of concept, as you can imagine).
After Garcia was sentenced to nine years in a federal prison in Kentucky, Garcia, then 32, and Fischer, then 56, got hitched. Garcia was transferred to a state prison in Arizona in 2009, where he's been serving time since 2009 on a variety of charges, including promoting prison contraband, money laundering, and a dangerous-drug violation, according to prison records.
Last year, authorities charged Garcia, Fischer, and four other women related to Garcia (identified as a girlfriend, mother, sister and ex-wife) were each charged with a variety of crimes alleging gang involvement.
According to the Pinal County Attorney's Office, the four other women were "commonly used to facilitate the collection, holding and distribution of money, assist in the packaging and shipment of drugs and contraband, pass and forward mail and messages and often act as go-betweens conducting some gang business to better shield it from law enforcement.
Fischer's charges were similar, while Garcia was hit with 159 counts, including a variety of charges related to using a wire in a drug offense, money laundering, assisting a criminal street gang, solicitation of murder, and more.
According to lawyers quoted back in Lemons' 2011 story, Fischer was actually a well-respected attorney before this came down. Well, save for one other incident -- Fischer had been representing a bounty hunter who eventually was convicted of a double murder that occurred in a home-invasion robbery. According to Lemons' story:
Detention officers spied the pair hugging and kissing. News accounts told of Fischer wearing short skirts for the benefit of her client, and they salaciously quote jail reports of the lady lawyer having her "skirt hiked up and her legs spread" as Sanders was "leaning toward her with his right hand reaching between her legs."
There was even some videotape of one incident that made the rounds on local TV. Fischer was booted from the case as a public defender but was allowed to represent Sanders as a private attorney.
In addition to this, just a few months ago, Fischer was reprimanded and placed on probation by the state Bar, for another matter apparently related to Garcia. According to the Bar, Fischer was representing two clients in seperate drug-related cases, and one client revealed that police asked him to snitch on the other. Fischer ended up withdrawing as the first client's attorney "a short time later," and according to the Bar:
She admitted that it was negligent for her not to realize that there was a significant risk that her representation of client 1 would be materially limited by her responsibilities to client 2. Client 1 later did provide testimony against client 2 resulting in the latter's conviction.
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As Lemons wrote about before, one of Garcia's old colleagues filed a Bar complaint making a similar allegation, plus many more allegations.
For the criminal charges, in addition to the three-year prison term, Fischer was also sentenced to complete four years of probation upon her release.
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.