Stapley Slammed With 93 Felony Charges, Seven Misdemeanors

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The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, via Channel 15 (KNXV-TV), says County Supervisor Don Stapley is being accused of 93 felonies and seven misdemeanors related to illicit finances.

And we heard something interesting from our own sources: This arrest didn't involve a grand jury indictment or even a prosecutor's office. It looks like an arrest based on "probable cause," which means the Sheriff's Office may have acted unilaterally -- kind of reminds of us of the way New Times executives Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested in 2008 by sheriff's deputies (in a trumped-up case that soon fell apart).

HeatCity.org reports that the deputy county attorney trying Stapley's other case, Mel Bowers, told him the Yavapai County Attorney's office wasn't involved in the latest arrest. Neither was the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, reports the HeatCity site, which is published by former East Valley Tribune reporter Nick Martin.

Channel 15's Josh Bernstein quotes a "source close to the investigation" -- we're betting it's Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott -- who told him:

...the charges include fraudulent schemes, prohibited acts of a public official, theft, and perjury.

The source also tells ABC15 the charges stem from monies that were allegedly transferred back and forth between several campaign accounts and personal accounts.

Bernstein's source tells him that Stapley is alleged to have taken $100 from one political committee campaign account, opened another in the name of "Stapley for NACo," (NACo = National Association of Counties), and proceeded to amass $140,000 in donations in the new account.

The Sheriff's Office says that Stapley bought new electronics and office furniture with some of the funds.

Another felony count relates to a loan Stapley took out using "tens of thousands of dollars" from the NACo account , apparently as collateral so he could obtain the loan. Channel 15 also published text from documents it obtained from the sheriff's office, which we'll republish here:

"Bank records show that Stapley wrote checks of approximately $47,000 on the NACo account, paid more than 30 credit card statements for a Bank of America credit card from the account totaling approximately $86,000, one credit card statement for a Chase credit card of approximately $37,000 and transferred approximately $97,000 to other accounts owned by Staley and/or his business entities."

"There was a total of approximately $97,000 in transfers to other bank accounts owned by Stapley and/or his entities. The largest transfer was for $60,000 which was made to Stapley's personal checking account on 6/7/05. This $60,000 was transferred back to the Stapley for NACo account on 6/13/05."

"It appears that Stapley transferred these (and other funds from other accounts, including his political contribution account) to his personal account to ensure that there were adequate funds in his account to cover a check for $121,000."

"An additional transfer for $20,000 was made to Stapley's personal checking account on 2/2/05. It appears that these funds were used to make a partial payment on the Bank One/Chase credit card on 3/1/05."

Hmm... Sounds a heck of a lot more serious than filling out campaign finance forms incorrectly. If these slush-fund allegations can be proven, it looks like Stapley's toast.

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