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CORBIN DECKS THE HALLS WITH FOLLY

Now, nearly fifteen years later, Don Devereux still remembers the empty feeling. He had just received word that Don Bolles, a reporter he much admired, had just been blown up in broad daylight by a bomb placed underneath his car.

"I was working in Santa Fe on land-fraud cases," Devereux said, "and I had spoken to Bolles over the telephone just a few days before about them. Bolles had great knowledge in this field, and he was always willing to help me."

As soon as he could, Devereux moved to Phoenix to help raise funds and investigate for the Investigative Reporters and Editors group that moved in from all parts of the country with hopes of finding Bolles' killers.

The others gave up the search long ago. But Devereux has never stopped. If anyone deserves a grace note from the Attorney General's Office, it has to be Devereux.

But Devereux, over the years, has alienated Bob Corbin. For one thing, he has always been a step ahead of any investigation in the Bolles case that the Attorney General's Office has in mind.

"It's been kind of embarrassing," Corbin admitted once to Bill Hume of the Albuquerque Journal, "Every time Devereux comes and tells us something is there, it's there."

But all the tips that Devereux gave him during the years didn't stop Corbin from intimating the other day that Devereux served as a sort of courier for Jimmy Robison and Max Dunlap.

Robison and Dunlap are going to be retried in the Bolles murder. They were found guilty once and were on death row together for nearly four years. Their death sentences were ruled out on appeal.

Dunlap was set free. Robison, who is serving additional time on another charge, remained in prison.

Corbin pretends to be outraged because Devereux brought some carpentry supplies that were paid for by Dunlap to Robison while visiting him in prison.

The amount of money involved is so small as to be laughable.
What Corbin really resents is that Devereux has a view of the case that is at variance with the Attorney General's Office party line.

This is one thing I've noticed about the Bolles case. Everyone has his own theory how it went down and hates everyone else who has a different theory.

Devereux wasn't actually charged. But Devereux's name came up at the recent dog-and-pony show of a press conference and Corbin tossed it into the pot. It was a shameful, gratuitous act designed to dirty up Devereux.

"I guess he was trying to hook me in as an unindicted co-conspirator," Devereux said. "At the least, he was trying to taint my role in the case."

We were sitting at a cramped table in The Gaslight on Seventh Avenue. Devereux was munching on an order of toast without much sign of appetite.

The first thing to notice was his black-framed reading spectacles. He wore a brown-corduroy sport jacket over a blue-oxford shirt. His beard was clipped short like a Civil War general's.

Devereux is a former 1960s activist who has never made much money in journalism. But he has never lost the fire.

He's a 1959 graduate in political science from Michigan State University, the school where his father taught for forty years.

Devereux never set out to be a journalist. Social work was his field. For years he worked with migrant farm workers.

He has four children and lives on the northwest side of Phoenix.
Most of his writing in the Bolles case--more than 100 pieces over the years--appeared in the Scottsdale Progress. He was invited to continue the investigation by then-publisher Jonathan Marshall, who believed that there was something strange that so many things were left out of the original Bolles investigation.

Devereux said he worked on what he termed "a modest retainer." The investigation became his avocation. Most of the time he didn't even turn in his expenses.

Here is the picture. He worked on the Bolles case for more than a decade. In the end, an incompetent attorney general attempts to smear his name.

I asked Devereux if Corbin's move intimidated him.
"No," Devereux said, "I'm merely aggravated. I understand Corbin's motive. I've been a nuisance to him. This is payback time for him.

"With this Attorney General's Office, you can't have an honest difference of opinion. They immediately want to think you're involved."

Devereux has developed a theory of the Bolles killing that is 180 degrees different from Corbin's.

"I think Brad Funk, the dog-track man, was the man who paid Adamson to set the bomb. He certainly had the most legitimate reasons to have Bolles killed."

Funk was concerned about Bolles' relationship with Funk's ex-wife and knew she was giving Bolles information about Funk's dog-track business, according to Devereux.

"When Bolles was killed, he was planning to make a trip to California to see Funk's wife once more. She was about to file a child-molesting charge against Funk and was going to give Bolles first crack at the story."

Devereux's theory goes further.
"At the same time that Bolles was killed, Mrs. Funk also received a death threat by telephone in California. I have a copy of the police report filed by Sergeant Harold Epstein of the Newport Beach Police Department.

"What better message could Funk send Bolles than a bomb that was literally attached to the car underneath Bolles' crotch?"

Devereux stopped talking for a few seconds. He took a sip from his cup of black coffee. The waitress swooped in quickly to refill it.

"Funk was also seen in the Ivanhoe Bar, a couple of blocks away when the bomb went off. A couple of minutes later, two men came in and took him away. The next time anybody heard about Funk he was in a San Diego hospital drying out."

I knew the rest.
Funk is dead now. He died of a heart attack recently without ever undergoing serious questioning by the police.

So Corbin has decided, one week before leaving office, to charge Dunlap and Robison again. He's going to charge by using the same evidence he's had for ten years.

Who can explain why he waited so long?
Not content with that, Corbin has chosen to cast a shadow on the reputation of the one reporter involved who has shown that journalism still has the power to attract an occasional idealist.

Sometimes I feel sorry for Bob Corbin. He never seems to get anything right.

"I understand Corbin's motive. I've been a nuisance to him. This is payback time for him."

"Every time Devereux comes and tells us something is there, it's there.

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Tom Fitzpatrick