Feathered Bastard

County Attorney’s office (finally) files "Notice of Intent to Dismiss" charges in Lacey/Larkin matter.

"A day late and a dollar short," laughed Village Voice Media Executive Editor Mike Lacey when asked to comment on the latest bit of legal paperwork to cross his desk, the "State's Notice of Intent to Dismiss," which was filed November 7 by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, and received on November 13 by Lacey's lawyers Tom and Janey Henze.

VVM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Larkin received virtually the same notice. Tom Henze explained that both Lacey and Larkin were each issued a criminal complaint in the form of a ticket after being arrested and released. (Lacey was released when he made bail, Larkin after being booked.) However, neither the ticket nor a more formal criminal complaint was ever submitted to the Phoenix Downtown Justice Court after members of the Sheriff's Orwellian-ly titled Selective Enforcement Unit wrote each man up on misdemeanor charges of revealing grand jury details in their October 18 cover story, “Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution.”

You can read the notice dealing with Lacey, here.

The tickets are referred to in the paperwork as "MCSO Traffic Ticket and Complaint[s].” Lacey's doc states, "The actual…complaint and number were not provided to the prosecutor. It is the state's understanding that no such [complaint] has been filed with the court as of this date."

Perhaps in the aftermath of “selectively” enforcing the law, and selectively cuffing and collaring New Times founders Lacey and Larkin on misdemeanor charges that normally would elicit no more than a summons, the SEU didn’t have time to file actual complaints. Maybe they expected that Andy Thomas’ highly-paid attack schnauzer Dennis Wilenchik would cover that end of the deal. Or at least order one of his legal flunkies, like former Superior Court Judge William French or low-totem-pole-boy Rob Somers, to do the deed.

Of course, the window of opportunity closed rapidly. Less than 24-hours after Lacey and Larkin were pinched, Thomas called his now famous news conference of Friday, October 19 announcing that the charges against the pair were to be dismissed, and that he had been blissfully ignorant about the circumstances of the arrests. The matter was over, and Wilenchik was fired. Well, sorta. Fired as special prosecutor, but allowed to leech off the county by representing it in civil cases, cases that have permitted Mr. Wilencheckbook to rack up $2 million in legal fees from the taxpayers, and counting.

Incredibly, Wilenchik claimed he was the real Sergeant Schultz on this one, as he had known noth-ink, noth-ink! about what was going on in his own law office. MCSO flack Paul Chagolla stated Wilenchik's paid patsies French and Somers dealt with the Selective Enforcement Unit the eve of the arrests. Hmmm...Does anyone out there really believe a control freak like Wilenchik wasn’t riding this flea-bitten burro all the way to the market?

As Lacey pointed out in last week’s column, “He Just Doesn't Get It,” Wilenchik actually “anointed himself the grand jury,” and in the process, “evaded case law and statute.”

Lacey wrote,

“Arizona law allows a prosecutor to issue a subpoena without prior grand jury review. But prosecutors must report to the grand jury foreman and the presiding judge of the Superior Court the existence of any subpoena — within 10 days of issuing it. Wilenchik did neither.”

Since this would-be witch hunt was so badly bollixed that Thomas had to step in and “fire” his supposedly independent special prosecutor, why did it take Thomas’ office weeks to get around to making good on Thomas’ press conference promise to drop the charges? In fact, attorney Tom Henze had to pull some wicked incisors getting Thomas’ office to file this official notice ending the matter, in what Henze called a “belt and suspenders” tactic to make doubly sure this feral cat was dead and buried.

Still, in these notices, there’s a lame attempt by Chief Assistant County Attorney Sally Wolfgang Wells (real middle name, BTW) to help her boss duck responsibility, when she offers that, “The actual…complaint and number were not provided to the prosecutor.” Call it a legal shrug: Hey, the Selective Enforcement Unit didn’t give us the info., so what did you want us to do?

Now that that’s settled, anyone up for a game of Greek dodge ball?

In a third, simultaneously-issued doc signed by Wells, the assistant prosecutor informs Judge Anna Baca that, per Baca's instructions on October 24 when she ordered grand jury docs related to New Times' case unsealed, the MCAO "requested and received the prosecution file" from the office of former special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik.

This oddly-labeled "State's Report of Document Search" then states:

"The Maricopa County Attorney's Office reviewed the contents of that file to determine whether it contained any documents that should have been filed in 430 GJ 97. No documents were located in that file that should have been part of the Clerk of the Court's file."

You can read the "State's Report of Document Search," here.

Now wouldn’t you love to take a gander at that prosecution file Wells obtained from Wilenchik? Back on October 24, Baca wondered where the actual subpoenas in the case were and why they weren’t in the grand jury file she was releasing. Wells said she’d look into it. This, apparently, is her answer. A particularly unsatisfying one, I might add, and one that raises a legion of queries. I’ll be asking those queries of the appropriate persons, and return with an update when I know more.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons