Developer Conley Wolfswinkel, his family and company will received $1.4 million in the largest Maricopa County payout yet to victims of the legal abuses of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
As the county just confirmed, the Wolfswinkels are getting more in this settlement than the $1.27 million that went to former Judge Gary Donahoe, or the still-disputed $975,000 settlement to Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox.
Corrupt practices by Thomas, Arpaio and some of their overly loyal underlings from 2008-2010 have now cost the county a cool $5 million in taxpayer-funded payouts to victims.
County spokeswoman Cari Gerchick released this statement from the Board of Supervisors about the settlement:
"The Board voted to settle this case to avoid incurring additional attorneys fees including the possible imposition of plaintiff's attorneys fees at trial.
"The cost to the County of defending this case is significant because there are seven different defendants who each required separate attorneys."
Don Stapley, a former County Supervisor who was in some ways the only slightly suspicious character in the alleged cabal of conspirators targeted by the deranged lawmen, is the only victim whose lawsuit now remains active. In yesterday's blog post, we covered why Wolfswinkel deserves his money: The facts show he and his company were pawns in a plan to smear and prosecute the lawmens' political opponents for a criminal conspiracy that did not exist.
Evidence later came out that seemed to prove a conspiracy was afoot -- but it was one cooked up by Thomas and Arpaio. Their goal at one point in the game, reportedly, was reportedly nothing less than a complete takeover of county leadership. County Supervisor Andrew Kunasek, a board member since 1997 who was re-elected last year, testified during Thomas' disciplinary proceedings last year that Tom Liddy, a deputy county attorney, tipped him off to details of the plan.
Thomas was disbarred following the proceedings. The state Supreme Court disciplinary likened his collaboration with Arpaio to an "unholy collaboration."
Besides Donahoe, the Wolfswinkels and Wilcox, settlements went to victims:
* Supervisor Andrew Kunasek; $123,000.
* Retired Judge Barbara Rodriguez Mundell; $500,000
* Susan Schuerman, executive assistant for former Supervisor Don Stapley; $500,000
* Sandra Dowling, former Maricopa schools superintendent; $250,000
* Retired Judge Anna Baca; $100,000
* Retired Judge Kenneth Fields; $100,000
* Steve Wetzel, Maricopa Chief Information Officer; $75,000
Thomas announced today that he's running for governor.
The state can't afford him.