Longform

Family Secrets

Page 4 of 8

During a chance meeting at a Phoenix bar in May 2004, Sally told New Times about some of her personal problems. She claimed Danny was a thief and a cheat, and that he'd taken her to the cleaners.

It all sounded a bit over the top. Bar talk. But it wasn't.


On December 23, 1999, a notary public recorded quitclaim deeds in which Sally Carbajal turned over her half-share of two Phoenix homes to Danny.

According to Danny Carbajal, Sally also agreed that day to sign over her half-ownership of six other area properties that the couple had bought in the early 1990s.

"The police have the original deeds," Danny said to New Times, "and it's all in Sally's signature. For them to say different is bullshit."

Those properties would become a key part of the Carbajals' divorce war that ended abruptly with her murder.

Sally insisted until she died that she never would have signed over any of the six community properties. But someone did sign her name to the six deeds, though not until December 2003, four years later.

Sally later said in various affidavits that she suspected her daughter Josephine of having forged her name, something Josephine steadfastly denies.

Danny said Sally did sign the quitclaims in his presence, to fulfill a promise she'd made to him during a brief reconciliation in 1999.

"I told her, 'Look, I can't trust you anymore,'" he said in his deposition last November. "'I don't know what to do. All that we have, you already spent a lot of it. You have your retirement. I have mine.'"

Attorney Winsberg asked Danny if Sally had signed something to that effect.

"Yes," Danny said. "Unfortunately, I haven't been able to locate it."

On top of that, Danny claimed that he and Sally didn't really own the six properties in their names.

"She knows they're not ours," Danny testified.

At Sally's suggestion, Danny said, his brother Michael had provided the bulk of the money for the properties and for the Merrill Lynch accounts:

"She said, 'Listen . . . the best thing that we can do is put the properties in our name, and that way Michael's protected in case he ever gets into any kind of trouble."

Ken Winsberg asked exactly how Michael had funneled the money to them.

"I don't know," Danny responded. "You'll have to ask her how she went about getting the money. I do know that he gave her the money to purchase the properties. I don't know what transactions she did to get the money.

"She was always telling me how we could hide this, how we could do this. If I had known this was going to come to this, I never would have done it. [She would say] 'In order to protect [Michael], we'll put everything in our name. And when it comes time, we'll just turn it over to him.'"

Winsberg asked, "You thought that was perfectly legitimate to just put money of somebody else's into a property . . . to sort of hide it from potential creditors?"

"Not creditors," Danny said. "Just from him being hurt. . . . If he ever got in trouble, they would take it away. . . . Like for fighting [out of the ring], for any personal type of thing."

Danny stated that Sally always had been the brains of the family's investment strategies, not he. But Michael Carbajal put it much differently from his brother during his own divorce from his wife, Merci.

In August 2002, Judge Richard Gama summarized the champ's position on finances by writing:

"Michael was a world champion prizefighter who did attain national, if not worldwide notoriety in the sport of boxing. During his active boxing career, it appears that he earned substantial prize money. However, he testified that he has no knowledge or understanding regarding any of his financial information and/or investments, if any.

"Michael testified that his brother [Danny] always managed his fighting career, and all of the prize money earned during his successful boxing career. Further, Michael testified that whenever he needs income, his brother simply makes the income available to him. . . . His brother also pays a monthly automobile purchase payment, automobile insurance and other monthly living expenses on his behalf."

Michael didn't mention his sister-in-law, Sally. She and Danny were separated for keeps by then. It had been a difficult run for Sally, who was unemployed and drinking heavily.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin