State Drops Case Against Mario De La Fuente Mix; His Media-Tycoon Father Still Faces Charges


State prosecutors today filed a motion to dismiss their organized-crime case against Mario de la Fuente Mix, the son of Mexican media tycoon Mario de la Fuente Manriquez.

Mix and his father, who have homes in Arizona and Mexico, have been out on bail since their arrests earlier this year as part of an alleged crime ring that owned bars and exotic auto dealerships in Scottsdale.

Manriquez, who owns the El Diario newspaper in Nogales, Mexico, and is the board president of his late father's cable-TV firm, Omnicable, remains charged with felony counts in connection with the funding and operation of illegal businesses.

The elder de la Fuente committed millions of dollars in loans to the businesses, court paperwork shows, by tapping into investment accounts on which Mix was a co-signer.

Mix's lawyers had argued that the money wasn't Mix's -- it was Manriquez's. Being a cosigner didn't mean Mix loaned the money to the businesses or committed any crime. Neither did sending wire transfers from the accounts at the request of his father, states a June motion by Mix's lawyer, Saji Vettiyil.

Vettiyil also argues in his motion that Phoenix detective Jeffrey Kornegay, while giving testimony to the grand jury that brought the indictment, kept combining or mixing up the names of Mix and his father, leading to confusion. By referring to "the de la Fuentes" or "Mario de la Fuente," jurors were left to "'guess' what testimony applied to what specific offense," the motion states.

All of that must have convinced the state Attorney General's office, which is handling the case, that they don't have much of a case against Mix. (The dismissal is being sought "without prejudice," though, which means the state could redo the case someday). 

Manriquez, court paperwork shows, maintains that not only was he unaware his money was being used improperly, but he was being ripped off by another man who police say was part of the ring, Nazreth Derboghossian.

Manriquez, Derboghossian and the other defendants in the case still have October court dates. The defendants include: Jodi Upton, Katie Marie Peters, Doug Allen and Ara Derboghossian.

We've left messages for Vettiyil and state prosecutor Theodore Campagnolo -- we'll update this post if they call back.



UPDATE: Judge Paul McMurdie approved the state's motion, which officially dismissed the case against Mix, on August 26. Here's a statement from Mix given to us by his lawyer on August 27:

"The nightmare is finally over and the de la Fuente Mix family is extremely thankful to god, and they're glad their faith in the United States legal system has been vindicated."

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.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.