Maricopa County Craziness

Don Stapley Case Update: 51 of 118 Criminal Counts Dismissed on Technicality


It's 51 down, 67 criminal counts to go for Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley.

The county leader under investigation and indictment for failure to follow campaign finance disclosure laws convinced Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fields to dismiss nearly half the counts on a technicality. Stapley's being strung up on a mix of felony and misdemeanor charges that he failed to properly list various sources of income on his disclosure forms, something New Times learned may be common among other elected officials -- including Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The dismissed charges were based on "failing to disclose property or business interest as required under a 'Maricopa County Rule or Resolution adopted January 20, 1994,'" Fields' minute entry reads.

There is no such rule or resolution that was adopted on that date, only a motion to "update" financial disclosure forms for elected officials, the judge wrote.

What bonehead prosecutor failed to realize that? What an embarrassment.

On the other hand, this still leaves Stapley buried under a heap of charges.

Another motion to dismiss by Stapley's legal team, that the law's financial disclosure requirements are written in too vague of a manner to be useful, was shot down by Fields. The motion based on the law seems fairly solid, even to a layperson, though it's a definitely a fairly technical technicality.

In the "there-ain't-no-such-law" motion to dismiss, lawyer Tom Henze, points out that the county had never passed the campaign finance disclosure law in the way the state required.

"'Almost' isn't good enough, because it is within 'almost' that vagueness and uncertainty lurk," Henze wrote in his motion to dismiss back in June.

UPDATE: Exactly how many counts are left? Honestly, we're not sure. Channel 15 (KNXV-TV) noted back in May that four counts had been dismissed. And the East Valley Tribune reported a few minutes ago that 52 of 117 counts had been dismissed. (As far our math-challenged brain can add, 51 counts were dismissed).


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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.