Maricopa County Treasurer Charles "Hos" Hoskins has been thwarted in his attempt to block County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox from receiving a taxpayer-funded $1 million jackpot.
In an order dated today, U.S. District Judge Neil Wake denied Hoskins' motion to intervene on Wilcox's settlement award and threw more money to Wilcox for attorney's fees spent on defending against the motion.
Wilcox should hold off on buying the new Mercedes just yet, though, because Wake also ruled that the county doesn't have to pay her until the appeals process is exhausted. Last month, the Board of Supervisors (except Wilcox, naturally), voted to appeal Wilcox's mandated settlement to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court.
Wilcox was among several county officials, county employees and others targeted in now-discredited criminal investigations by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas. In April, a three-member disciplinary panel convened by the Arizona Supreme Court disbarred Thomas and castigated Arpaio for the unethical, politically motivated investigations.
In May, Judge Wake ordered the county to pay Wilcox the $975,000 settlement approved by former County Manager David Smith.
But Hoskins and County Attorney Bill Montgomery wanted to keep the ball in the air. Hoskins' county-funded lawyers argued that, according to an interpretation of state law by Montgomery, the county treasurer and a county supervisor had to agree to pay a claim to another supervisor.
Steven LaMar, a Cave Creek councilman and attorney representing the county, conceded just prior to Wake's May order that the law did not require a sign-off on the jackpot by the treasurer and a supervisor.
Wake drove the nail home in early June when he granted Wilcox's motion to enforce the settlement. But Hoskins filed a motion to intervene in the case, saying he was worried that by agreeing to pay Wilcox, he might violate state law.
Rubbish, Wake ruled today.
Hoskins should have no legitimate concern that paying Wilcox would break the law, says Wake -- after all, the judge has already ruled that the statute in question does not apply, a point that LaMar, on behalf of the county, had conceded.
Beyond that, Hoskins' motion is just weak, Wake suggests.
"It is not the court's duty to develop his arguments for him," Wake's order states. "Hoskins has provided no basis to think that any statute bars his ability to permit payment of the settlement."
Cari Gerchick, spokeswoman for the county, tells New Times that a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court could take four-to-six months.
The Ninth likely won't overturn Wake's decision, since it was based partly on the county's own concession that the "treasurer-must-agree" law didn't apply to Wilcox's settlement.
And that means it should be a nice Christmas at the Wilcoxes this year.
Hoskins, meanwhile, says he has no "inclination" to directly appeal Wake's order regarding his motion to intervene, and that he believes he'll just let the county appeal do its work.