| Arizona |

Former Mayor of Superior Pleads Guilty in Theft Case, Won't Serve Jail Time

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

The Arizona Attorney General's Office agreed to a plea deal this week that will keep the former town of Superior mayor out of jail for his attempted theft of town funds.

Frank "Jayme" Valenzuela, 54, pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor attempted theft, and will be sentenced to a probation term of up to three years, AG Mark Brnovich said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

In December 2015, an auditor hired by the mining town east of Phoenix announced that she'd discovered that the mayor had made a number of unauthorized cash withdrawals from a town credit card. An investigation later showed he withdrew $2,300 total during 2013 and 2014 from ATMs, including one at a casino.

Valenzuela paid back the money. But the scandal gave his opponents the fodder they needed to launch a recall drive.

An indictment in July 2016 for felony theft caused him to be fired from his job as Pinal County's jail commander and sealed his political fate.

In the August 2016 recall election, Superior voters decided overwhelmingly to toss out Valenzuela — who had won his job in a 2011 recall election — and install his competitor, council member Mila Besich Lira, to the post.

Valenzuela was a strong ally of former Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, publicly supporting the Republican in 2008 even as Valenzuela ran for sheriff as a Democrat. After Babeu was elected, as former New Times writer Monica Alonzo reported, Babeu gave Valenzuela a $73,000-a-year job overseeing supply contracts for county jails.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.