Stapley team says Arpaio violated same laws - East Valley Tribune: News

Stapley team says Arpaio violated same laws

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Posted: Thursday, September 3, 2009 4:53 pm | Updated: 2:30 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio violated the same laws that indicted County Supervisor Don Stapley did, a Stapley defense motion filed Wednesday alleges.

The motion argues that the indictment of Stapley, an East Valley Republican, should be dismissed for selective enforcement and vindictive prosecution.

Stapley contends in the motion that Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Arpaio are punishing him for opposing the lawmen on two county issues.

Arpaio investigated Stapley, and Thomas got the grand jury indictment.

"It is hypocritical that other people similarly situated to Mr. Stapley have not been prosecuted especially since the top law enforcement official in the County knew of his own transgressions," defense attorney Tom Henze wrote in the motion.

Stapley was indicted in November on 118 criminal counts alleging he failed to list business and real estate deals on financial disclosure forms he is required to file as an elected official.

One count was dropped shortly after Thomas handed the case over to Yavapai County to prosecute in April. Judge Kenneth Fields of Maricopa County Superior Court dismissed 51 counts on Aug. 25.

Sixty-six counts of forgery and perjury remain.

Fields dismissed the 51 counts when he agreed with Henze's argument that the financial disclosure offenses Stapley was accused of committing were nonexistent because the County Board of Supervisors did not properly enact a law mandating their disclosure.

It is that same law Henze said never existed that he now accuses Arpaio of breaking.

Henze alleges Arpaio failed to disclose a family trust and several parcels of real estate on his financial disclosure statements over several years.

Henze listed 39 instances of Arpaio's failure to disclose since 1992, saying the true scope of his holdings is unknown because many of Arpaio's records are exempt from public viewing.

Property records are typically public record, but police in Arizona have the option of obtaining a court order to keep what they own a secret for security reasons.

Mike Scerbo, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, said his office wouldn't comment on Stapley's allegations.

Mel Bowers, a retired Navajo County Attorney picked by the Yavapai County attorney to handle the case, said Thursday he is still in the process of reviewing the motion, and he isn't prepared to comment on it yet.

Arpaio's public information officer, Lisa Allen, issued a statement by e-mail.

"My financial disclosures and information were done properly. An accusation to the contrary is nothing more than a desperate last minute attempt by the Stapley defense team to divert attention away from Mr. Stapley's issues on this topic. Our investigation into Supervisor Don Stapley continues and will not be thwarted by such tactics," the e-mail read.

Aside from the indictment against Stapley, MCSO is investigating the construction of a $340 million court building in downtown Phoenix, as well as Stapley's relationship with East Valley developer Conley Wolfswinkel.

The Yavapai County attorney is doing the legal work associated with those investigations.

Stapley's trial is set to begin Oct. 14.

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