The federal grand jury investigating the finances of Governor J. Fife Symington III is meeting more frequently, suggesting that more indictments may be imminent, sources close to the investigation say.
"We are not long away," says one source, dramatically.
For at least a year, the grand jury had convened every two weeks in a hearing room at the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Phoenix.
But in recent weeks, the grand jury, which is under the direction of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, has been convening at least once a week, and possibly more often than that.
Sources say prosecutors stepped up the pace soon after the Fifester's former accountant, John Yeoman, was killed in an April 5 automobile crash. Prosecutors reportedly were leaning heavily on Yeoman to provide incriminating information about the governor. The grand jury indicted Yeoman March 14 on nine felony counts stemming from bid-rigging charges on a state contract.
Former Symington aide George Leckie faces seven felony charges from the same bid-rigging case. His trial is scheduled to begin in July.
Mystery Science Theater 1996
It's apropos that the governor and Attorney General Grant Woods both showed up for a May 20 sneak preview of Mission: Impossible at Scottsdale Fashion Square. They weren't together, by the way.
Woods faces the nearly impossible mission of getting Bob Dole elected. Woods chairs Dole's Arizona campaign.
As for the Fifester, well, he just likes free stuff.
The Long Harm of the Law
Lorne Shantz thought there were no more indignities he could be subjected to. He was wrong.
Shantz was suspended from his position as a Department of Public Safety highway patrolman in 1994, after cops seized his computer bulletin board and CD-ROMs that held tens of thousands of files--including fewer than two dozen that allegedly contained child pornography, sadomasochism and bestiality ("Prosecution of an Information Highway Patrolman," June 29, 1995). A grand jury indicted him. DPS fired him.
But Shantz, who had 14 years on the job, was exonerated. The indictment was tossed out after it was revealed that Shantz hadn't had a chance to testify. He convinced a second grand jury not to indict.
Earlier this year, a merit board denied Shantz's plea to be reinstated at DPS.
Now the authorities are after the last vestige of his career: his police certification.
On May 16, the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board voted to proceed with a hearing to consider revoking or suspending Shantz's peace officer certification.
Shantz--who has already spent thousands of dollars on his defense--must shell out another $10,000 if he wants legal representation for the hearing.
"Now it looks like I may have to become my own attorney," he says ruefully, recalling the adage that a person who represents himself has a fool for a client.
But Shantz is no quitter--even when the odds are stacked against him. "I'm pretty nervous about it," he says, "but whaddaya do?"
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