Lord of the Lies

Page 4 of 9

More important, the tape showed Thinnes and Owens leaving the conference room after the interview, leaving the prosecutor and his witness alone.

With the video camera still secretly taping, Campagnola spoke privately with his witness for a few minutes.

The witness then stepped outside after Thinnes and Owens returned to the conference room, where they chatted with the prosecutor.

"If they fire you, you can rent space from us," Owens tells Campagnola. "Maybe you should work here, Ted. You'd have more fun. You get to laugh here."

Moments after Campagnola leaves, Owens can be seen walking over to a console and bending down.

The tape then ends.

If neither Campagnola nor his witness knew they were being taped, Owens and Thinnes committed a felony under Arizona law.

Campagnola says he didn't know about the videotaping at the time. And certainly, the elderly witness didn't have a clue.

Thinnes told New Times shortly before he died that the tapings had been "Owens' deal, his equipment, his operation, his thing." But that wasn't the tack he took last May with Owens' attorney, Steve Dichter.

In an e-mail, he demanded that Dichter turn over another secretly recorded videotape made in 2001 of assistant attorney general Don Conrad and others. Thinnes said the tape constituted "work product," and that Owens had no right to have "stolen properties" in his possession.

The tape recording was done during plea negotiations for Michael Papa, a Thinnes client and a co-conspirator of Sammy "The Bull" Gravano in a high-profile drug case.

For Thinnes to have first claimed ignorance to New Times about the taping system was absurd. Why he allowed Owens to install the system is the real question.

On the early evening of March 19, 2002, Billie Rosen met with her kennel club at her Glendale home to discuss plans for an upcoming show.

Afterward, the senior litigation counsel at the Attorney General's Office normally would have sat at her computer terminal and worked. But her brother Richard was staying with her, and he enjoyed Web surfing at night.

So Rosen retreated to her bedroom and pulled out a thick file. Her reading concerned a pending criminal case against Mark David Branon, a onetime Scottsdale man charged in a major marijuana-distribution case.

Branon's trial was just a few weeks away, and the conspiracy case was rather complicated. But Rosen has been prosecuting drug cases for more than two decades, and is known for her attention to detail.

Those who have opposed her in court might say Rosen resembles a metaphorical bulldog more than the beloved border terriers that she raises and shows. Case in point was the Branon trial, in which the defendant was being prosecuted as a "serious drug offender."

That brings a mandatory life sentence upon conviction.

To make matters worse for Branon, he recently had learned that his longtime San Diego lawyer, Sheldon Sherman, planned to testify against him. Sherman had been facing his own felony charges of laundering Branon's allegedly ill-gotten drug funds.

As he sat at the computer, Richard Rosen heard what he later described as glass exploding. He then saw that he was bleeding and felt a surge of pain.

Someone had fired a bullet at Rosen through a window on the side of the home. One bullet lodged in his back below his ribs, just missing his heart. His spleen was badly damaged, and his lungs were filling with blood.

Billie Rosen came running, thinking at first that two of her six dogs might be fighting. She saw her brother was kneeling on the floor, in obvious distress.

Soon after paramedics rushed Richard Rosen to a hospital, his sister gave Glendale detectives the names of those who might have wanted to kill her. Richard Rosen is from out of state, and had no known enemies.

At the top of her list, which wasn't short because of the job she has, was Mark Branon.

Branon was out on bail at the time, and the detectives investigated his whereabouts on the evening in question. He had an ironclad alibi: He had been at a restaurant in Southern California when the shooting happened.

Months before the Rosen shooting, Branon had hired veteran Phoenix attorney Larry Debus to represent him. He paid Debus $50,000 up front, and promised to pay another $50,000 if the case went to trial.

Branon told New Times in a recent jailhouse interview that Debus had advised him early on "that Bob Owens was going to be my investigator, and it would cost me $25,000 up front. That I was to pay Bob. He said Bob was the best in the business and that I could trust him with anything."

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin