Thomas files criminal complaint against judge - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Thomas files criminal complaint against judge

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Posted: Wednesday, December 9, 2009 11:22 am | Updated: 1:41 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas has filed a criminal complaint alleging a Superior Court judge hindered prosecution of county Supervisor Don Stapley and investigations into funding of a $340 million court tower project.

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The charges of hindering prosecution, obstructing a criminal investigation and bribery of a public servant were brought against Judge Gary Donahoe, the court's top criminal judge. The allegations are the same as ones brought against him in a racketeering lawsuit filed last week in federal court.

Thomas said other judges and county officials are under investigation for protecting Stapley and obstructing investigations, but he wouldn't say whether more people would be charged soon.

"We are going to continue to address the deep-seated corruption that we perceive and have found in Maricopa County government," Thomas said.

Thomas said Donahoe didn't commit bribery in the traditional sense where there is a direct exchange of money, but the judge's actions are just as illegal.

The state's broad bribery statute defines the crime as accepting something of value in exchange for an official act, Thomas said.

The statute also states that it has to be done with "corrupt intent."

"Here you have a judge who shut down a court-tower investigation, and the Superior Court is going to receive a $340 million court tower," Thomas said.

Thomas said Donahoe was going to hold a hearing Wednesday that could have shut down more investigations, but he canceled it after he was served with the criminal complaint.

Donahoe's secretary said he was unavailable for comment, and he did not return a message seeking comment. A court spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment.

Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio have been critical of Donahoe rulings that were unfavorable to their case against Stapley and the tower investigation and other cases.

Donahoe most recently threw detention officer Adam Stoddard into jail after Stoddard defied Donahoe's order to publicly apologize to a defense attorney for looking through her papers during a court proceeding.

Stoddard remains in jail, Arpaio said.

Donahoe disqualified the Maricopa County Attorney's Office on Feb. 6 from investigating the funding of the tower, and he also ruled in a separate matter that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office must return everything seized from East Valley developer Conley Wolfswinkel in a search of his offices. The sheriff's office conducted the raid of the Wolfswinkel office as part of an investigation into his relationship with Stapley.

Donahoe, however, has signed search warrants for the sheriff's office for raids of businesses in search of employer sanctions law violations, including a raid of the Mesa Public Library.

Stapley, a Mesa Republican, and fellow supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, a Phoenix Democrat, were indicted Tuesday in separate cases.

Stapley's indictment alleges he used campaign funds for personal use. Wilcox is accused of failing to disclose conflicts of interest as required by law in voting for county contracts for an organization that gave her personal and business loans.

A previous 118-count indictment against Stapley alleging he did not disclose financial information he was required to as an elected official was dismissed in September.

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