Longform

End of a Smear

Page 5 of 8

Carey broke up massive voter fraud in a rural Arizona community where election-day corruption had long stumped local authorities, the state Department of Public Safety and the FBI, all of whom had opened files on Eloy, a ballot-box Bermuda Triangle.

For two years Carey dogged the case, eventually securing a 51-count indictment against nine individuals.

Carey jailed the mastermind of the voter-fraud ring, a Pinal County sheriff who lived in Yuma and used his extensive, and willing, relatives to organize ballot-box stuffing in his childhood hometown, Eloy.

The two letters Romley possessed accused Eloy police Lieutenant Barry Pritchett and Rob Carey of introducing perjured testimony to the grand jury hearing the case.

Noting the March date on the letters, and comparing it to the July announcement by the attorney general on Project SLIM, Romley argued that this proved he wasn't running a vendetta--that he was investigating Carey long before Romley's $750,000 humiliation was made public.

Which is a bold lie.
"Even though false testimony was provided the state grand jury, by Robert Carey, you have to show there was a criminal intent, and although we had some particular allegations of being in politics, there was some circumstances, for example, a city manager bypassing a Chief of Police and specifically recruiting this Lieutenant to do this investigation, we could not show that there was criminal intent," said Romley. "There is absolutely no crime for not being very good for presenting evidence to the state grand jury or incompetence. That matter was started prior to the George Leckie matter."

This is a vicious twisting of the record, not to mention the English language.

The police chief was circumvented in the election-fraud investigation because his boss, the city manager, had concern that the chief might be mixed up in the voter fraud. It was the city manager who asked the attorney general to prosecute the case.

The letters may have been dated March 12, but Romley's investigators never contacted the police officer accused of perjury, Lieutenant Pritchett, until August 22, weeks after the attorney general announced the $750,000 settlement in the bid-rigging case.

The letters were irrelevant on the point of Romley's vendetta toward Carey.
After issuing subpoenas for a warehouse of documents from the Attorney General's Office, Romley never asked for so much as a presentence report on the voter-fraud case in Eloy. Instead, he simply grilled Lieutenant Pritchett.

Unable as a prosecutor to make the far-fetched charge of perjury stand up against the cop, or Carey, Romley then leaked selected data to the state's largest newspaper, the Arizona Republic, to further smear Carey.

Last Friday, the Republic's Dennis Wagner ran with the phony allegation of perjury.

Though invited by the Attorney General's Office to review its Eloy file, Wagner declined, citing deadlines.

The sources for Romley's allegation of perjury were Guadalupe Ibarra and Oscar Morin. These men wrote the letters claiming perjured testimony had been used. The letter writers were among those indicted by Carey in the voter-fraud case.

Though their indictments were dropped, the two were members of a family hip deep in a voter-fraud ring orchestrated by Sheriff Moses Ibarra, Guadalupe's brother and Oscar's brother-in-law.

The clan's favorite refrain was that a police officer had committed perjury in the case against Oscar Morin.

Romley took the bait.
Listening to the Ibarras on a question of prosecutorial ethics is like consulting with Snoop Doggy Dogg on the theory of clog dancing. Even a desultory reading of the legal file demonstrates that their claim is the worst sort of nonsense.

Without establishing that the police officer in question had committed perjury, Romley investigated the premise that Carey had asked for the perjury.

Romley explored the theory that in a 51count indictment, against nine defendants, Carey suborned perjury, on a single count, against the smallest fish in the barrel, Oscar Morin, an electrician in Yuma.

That county investigators pursued the unique proposition that Carey might have asked the police officer to commit the alleged perjury spoke volumes about Romley's desperation to find something he could pin on Carey.

Romley's tortured theory depended on his faith in the Ibarras.
In Eloy, Sheriff Moses Ibarra was legend.
On election day in the winter of 1992, he personally delivered 150 absentee ballots for the city council race.

Ibarra's suitcase full of absentee ballots showed signatures from people who said they lived in Eloy.

Lieutenant Pritchett documented that many actually resided in Hawaii, or Phoenix, or Yuma, or even Casa Grande. One of Moses' voters lived in a mental institution (not located in Eloy); another dwelled in the Midwest. He cast votes for people who were underage; his sister, who was old enough to vote, did so repeatedly, though she, too, lived in Yuma.

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey