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PHOENIX (AP) — A woman who worked at a Phoenix area nonprofit and a church is accused of defrauding both organizations of more than $100,000.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities say a credit card fraud suspect shot by police in the parking lot of a Scottsdale supermarket has died.
Former Phoenix Suns forward Richard Dumas has been sentenced to three years of probation in a case stemming from thefts from a store on a military base.
Today marks the start of the current tax filing season. So, before you procrastinate about gathering your records to get your return done, here’s a very important reason to help you get motivated. Tax fraudsters and identity thieves may very well beat you to it.
PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) — A senior Prescott Valley Police Department official resigned after learning he was under investigation in the theft of prescription drugs from an evidence room, the department said.
Rejected. A notice from the Internal Revenue Service saying your return won’t be accepted might be your first clue that your identity has been stolen.
On New Year’s Eve I got my monthly update email from a Tempe councilmember.
PHOENIX (AP) — Prosecutors are seeking to dismiss most of the charges against metro Phoenix restaurant owner accused of trafficking in stolen identities.
PHOENIX (AP) — A judge has barred Maricopa County officials from enforcing two Arizona identity-theft laws that have been used to convict hundreds of immigrant workers.
What’s the big deal with the federal government saying that Arizona has to issue driver’s licenses to dreamers? As required by state law one of the following must be provided to obtain an Arizona driver’s license: 1. Driver’s license from another state. 2. Birth certificate. 3. U.S. Passport. 4. U.S. Certificate of Citizenship. 5. U.S. Military Identification Card. The federal government didn’t change any of our requirements did they?”
CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) -- Authorities say golf clubs and a golf bag that once belonged to the city of Chandler's founder have been stolen from a museum storage facility.
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona authorities say a woman has been arrested in connection with a nearly $17 million annuity fraud scheme.
PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona sheriff known for crackdowns on people living in the country illegally is giving up his last major foothold in immigration enforcement efforts that won him popularity among voters but gradually were reined in by Congress and the courts
PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona sheriff known for arresting hundreds of immigrants in the country illegally on charges of finding work using fake or stolen identities is planning to close the controversial squad that investigates such cases.
The holiday season is here, and that means it’s party time. Allstate’s new “Holiday Home Hazards” poll found that 83 percent of Americans plan to party this season, but beware: that sweater you plan to wear isn’t the only thing that can get ugly during the holidays.
You know what you’re getting when you pay your mortgage and utility bills each month. But do you know what you get when you pay your auto insurance premium?
Finding evidence of false statements by sheriff's investigators, the state Court of Appeals on Tuesday gave the owner of a chain of Phoenix area restaurants a chance to undermine — and possibly escape — charges he knowingly hired undocumented workers.
LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. (AP) — A Lake Havasu City school's PTA president has been arrested for allegedly using the organization's debit card for her personal expenses.
Starline Elementary School officials told Today's News-Herald Friday that 34-year-old Lisa Badding has been removed from her position as PTA president.
Police arrested Badding Tuesday on charges of credit-card fraud and theft.
According to an arrest report, Badding is accused of using a PTA debit card to for gas, cable bills, fast food as well as withdrawals that amounted to $1,200 in all.
When confronted by police, Badding said she did not recall making the purchases.
Badding has since been released pending her next court date.
She did not return a request for comment Friday night.
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The cases before a Tucson judge on Wednesday seemed fairly routine: Two men charged with drug offenses asking him to grant them bail.
What stood out, however, was that the two men had a right to a bail hearing in the first place.
Last month, a federal appeals court threw out a 2006 Arizona law denying bail to immigrants in the country illegally.
That cleared the way for the proceedings in Tucson and elsewhere.
Miguel Angel Valenzuela and Juan Angel-Carmona Pineda were arrested on Nov. 13, the same day the Supreme Court let stand the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to halt enforcement of the law.
Pineda was accused of transporting more than 100 pounds of marijuana. Valenzuela faces charges relating to the alleged possession of a pound of pot.
The judge noted the new rules imposed by the courts as he granted the two men bail, even though he set it so high that they will likely be unable to come up with the money.
"Essentially we have the 9th Circuit decision still standing and the way I view it, it's binding on me," Judge José Luis Castillo said.
Castillo set Valenzuela's bail at $50,000, cash only, and Carmona Pineda's was set at $75,000, also cash only.
Defense attorneys and immigrant advocates who say the law is unconstitutional contend many immigrants who wound up in jail without bond had committed offenses such as using a fake identity to work or carrying small amounts of drugs.
Proposition 100 was passed amid a series of immigration crackdowns in Arizona. It denied bail to immigrants in the country illegally who have been charged with felonies such as shoplifting, aggravated identity theft, sexual assault and murder.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has said it protects the public from serious offenders who would not likely show up for court again if let loose.
His spokesman, Jerry Cobb, said the state will continue to defend the law and will file an appeal with the Supreme Court, asking justices to hear the case and make a ruling on the law.
"The nightmare scenario is that the drug cartel sends somebody into the U.S. to commit a hit on somebody and they murder somebody," Cobb said. "And the cartel comes and bails them out because that's nothing, that's chump change for a drug cartel."
Maricopa County Deputy Public Defender Mikel Steinfeld said it's hard to keep track of how many immigrants were held without bond since the law passed because there are several organizations that provide public defense and some immigrants hire private attorneys. He and a colleague estimated that as many as 300 prisoners, possibly more, were affected in Maricopa County.
"I think we're both optimistic that our clients who happen to be illegal immigrants will be treated on a more equitable level with the remainder of clients," Steinfeld said.
In Pima County, defense attorneys say local judges stopped enforcing the law when the appeals court put it on hold a month ago.
Lawyer Margo Cowan, who represented the two men in court in Tucson, has handled the bulk of no-bail cases and says in many instances, judges didn't enforce the rule in the first place because it was too difficult to prove that a defendant was actually residing in the country illegally.
"In Pima County, these judges tend to be very fair and unbiased and evaluate the case for what it is," Cowan said.
But there were exceptions. Judge Castillo noted that until recently, judges in Pima County Justice Court had not been on the same page about whether the no-bail rule was enforceable.
In Maricopa County, judges have been directed to stop enforcing the rule. Cobb estimates that upward of 450 defendants will now clog the courts calendar with hearings seeking bail.
MESA, Ariz. (AP) — A paramedic has been charged with theft after being accused of pocketing a patient's Rolex watch during an ambulance ride to a hospital, authorities said Friday.
Jason Edward Alexander, a Rural/Metro ambulance employee, was arrested after the victim's son saw the watch on eBay and notified authorities.
The man died on Oct. 8 after Alexander helped transport him to the hospital in Mesa on Sept. 21. The family couldn't find his watch.
Alexander acknowledged taking the watch because he owed money to his parents, Mesa police spokesman Esteban Flores said.
After trying to sell it on eBay, Alexander sold it for $1,400 to a friend who did not know it had been stolen, police said.
The friend was working with authorities to return the watch to the family.
Alexander faces one count each of theft and trafficking in stolen property. He is due in court Wednesday. It was unclear if he has an attorney.
John Karolzak, a Rural/Metro spokesman, said Alexander is on unpaid administrative leave. He was hired about a year ago after undergoing a background check, Karolzak said, adding that the company had no plans to review any of its operations.
"We consider this incident an anomaly and acted definitively upon notification," he said.
This photo provided by Mesa Police Department shows Jason Edward Alexander. Police say the family of a man who died Oct. 8, 2014 at a Mesa hospital could not locate his Rolex watch. They say the man's son later found the watch for sale on eBay and notified authorities. Investigators discovered Nov. 4 that the seller was Alexander, a Rural Metro ambulance employee who helped transport the victim Sept. 21. Police say Alexander admitted to taking the watch and selling it. He faces one count each of theft and trafficking in stolen property. (AP Photo/Mesa Police Department)
A Valley EMT working inside an ambulance stole from a patient who was riding to the hospital, then put the merchandise up for sale on eBay, Mesa Police said in court documents.
PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities say the owner of a Phoenix auto body shop is accused of staging car accidents and collecting on fraudulent insurance claims.
Arizona Department of Insurance investigators say 33-year-old Guillermo "Willie" Altamirano allegedly staged crashes to collect at least $200,000 in fraudulent claims.
The group reportedly relied on forged drivers' licenses from Mexico and Guatemala plus disposable cellphones and prepaid credit cards to purchase auto insurance under fictitious names.
Altamirano is the owner of Champion Auto Body in Phoenix. It was unclear Thursday if he has a lawyer yet.
Acting on a tip, state Department of Insurance agents conducted an undercover operation in April at the auto body shop.
Altamirano was arrested Thursday. He's accused of conspiracy, assisting a criminal syndicate, fraud schemes, theft and forgery.
PHOENIX (AP) — A judge presiding over a racial profiling case against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office leveled harsh criticism against the agency Tuesday for not thoroughly investigating allegations that some sheriff's deputies were involved in thefts.
U.S. District Judge Murray Snow also singled out Arpaio for publicly saying he had no regrets about launching the type of immigration patrols that the judge found to have been unconstitutional as part of the profiling case. The judge is concerned Arpaio's comments are weakening efforts to correct constitutional flaws in the agency's approach to traffic stops.
"I think he is completely undoing what the MCSO (Arpaio's office) is spending a great deal of time building," said Snow, who showed visible frustration with the agency at several points in a court hearing Tuesday. He ordered the sheriff himself to attend the training that his officers must complete as part of the profiling case.
The hearing was called to discuss the agency's investigations of a former officer suspected of shaking down immigrants and to address Arpaio's recent unapologetic comments about a 2008 immigration patrol.
Arpaio, who was in Idaho on Tuesday, didn't attend the hearing. His lawyers and one of Arpaio's top managers faced sharp questioning from the judge, particularly over the investigation into former Deputy Ramon Charley Armendariz.
Armendariz was arrested in May after investigators found items belonging to others and bags of evidence at his home. Armendariz implicated former colleagues on Arpaio's immigrant smuggling squad, quit his job and later committed suicide. Armendariz is relevant to the profiling case because he was a witness at the case's 2012 trial and videos of his traffic stops were discovered after his arrest.
The judge said he had concerns that the only criminal investigation by the sheriff's office of Armendariz has been closed.
"I think you need to continue to investigate where those items came from," Snow said.
Robert Warshaw, a court-appointed official who is monitoring the sheriff's office on behalf of the judge, said another former member of Arpaio's smuggling squad has alleged that squad members had pocketed items from raids at safe houses.
Warshaw, a former police chief, said his team of police professionals has never seen more unprofessional interviews than those conducted by Arpaio's employees who are conducting the investigation. Warshaw said the interviews were replete with apologetic treatment of those being interviewed.
More than a year ago, Snow ruled Arpaio's office had systematically racially profiled Latinos in its regular traffic and immigration patrols. Arpaio denies that his officers have racially profiled people and has appealed the decision. The judge is requiring Arpaio's office to video-record traffic stops, collect data on traffic stops and conduct additional training to ensure officers aren't making unconstitutional traffic stops.
Tuesday's hearing also centered on Arpaio's recent comments about a 2008 immigration patrol in the town of Guadalupe that were a significant piece of the profiling case.
Asked to comment about an upcoming community meeting in Guadalupe, Arpaio told The Associated Press he had no regrets about the patrol. "With the same circumstances, I'd do it all over again," Arpaio said.
Snow said the sheriff, as an elected official, is free to make whatever public statements he wishes, but added that Arpaio sets the overall tone for his agency — and questioned whether the sheriff's comments are undermining efforts to train his deputies.
Tim Casey, an attorney representing Arpaio, said the sheriff's office is making significant changes ordered by the judge and that the agency was acting in good faith. "Good faith exists in the deed, not the spoken word," Casey said, arguing there was no cause and effect as a result of Arpaio's comments.
Cecillia Wang, a lawyer who pressed the profiling case against the sheriff's office, said the sheriff wasn't merely expressing disagreement with the judge — he was saying he would do his immigration patrols all over again.
Snow said he was willing to take such comments by Arpaio into account when deciding whether the sheriff's office has complied with the judge's efforts to fix the constitutional problems.
PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery wants a federal appeals court to give him what legal foes call a "do-over'' of his bid to salvage a state law denying bail to many people not in this country legally.
Montgomery conceded in filings with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a prior county attorney did not present evidence showing that undocumented individuals were less likely to show up for court dates than citizens or legal residents. The appellate judges, citing that lack of evidence, ruled last week that lack of facts, coupled with disparate treatment of those without documents, make the 2006 voter-approved Proposition 100 illegal and unenforceable anywhere in Arizona.
But Montgomery, in his latest plea, said that was because the challengers to the law effectively admitted that to be true. So he said there was no need to present any statistical evidence.
Cecillia Wang, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that's not true. She said Montgomery is now seeking a "do-over'' for flaws in the way his office handled the case in the first place.
"They had every opportunity to show that Proposition 100 was supported by some indication there was a flight risk issue here,'' she said. "And they didn't do it,'' Wang continued. "You know why? Because those numbers don't exist.''
Montgomery said he does have such data, even though former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who was in office when the law was challenged, chose not to present it. And he said the appellate court should give him a chance to make the case now.
"The story is not, 'I want a do-over, Andy Thomas screwed up,' ''Montgomery said. He said it's a question of "simple fairness.''
He said if the appellate court is relying on a lack of evidence to support Proposition 100 they should direct there be a court hearing to explore that issue before voiding a voter-approved state constitutional amendment.
This is more than a question of what happens going forward.
Montgomery said there are "a couple of hundred'' people now in his own county jails awaiting trial who were denied bail because of Proposition 100. He said if the ruling is not overturned, that will allow each of those people to demand a hearing to determine if they should be released -- a process that would be repeated in each of the other 14 counties -- which will cause a backup in handling other cases.
He also told the appellate judges if do not want to give him another chance to make his case, they should at least delay implementing their ruling to let him seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The measure makes bail unavailable to those charged with "serious felony offenses'' if they are in this country illegally and if "the proof is evident or the presumption great'' that the person is guilty of the offense charged.
Proponents said that anyone who has crossed the border illegally probably has few ties to this country, making them a greater flight risk.
Voters approved the measure on a 3-1 ratio.
But appellate Judge Raymond Fisher, writing for the majority of the 11-member court, said there is a constitutional presumptive right of those arrested to be released on bail.
Fisher acknowledged that Arizona has a "compelling interest'' in ensuring that those accused of crimes show up for trial. But he said a blanket rule that those in the country illegally accused of certain crimes must be held without bond is not justified.
"The record contains no findings, studies, statistics or other evidence ... showing that undocumented immigrants as a group pose either an unmanageable flight risk or a significantly greater flight risk than lawful residents,'' Fisher wrote.
It is that evidence that Montgomery now contends he can marshal. But it may not matter.
Fisher said he and his colleagues are not saying it is up to the Montgomery to produce such evidence. But he said the absence of such evidence is a key factor in showing that Proposition 100 was not narrowly crafted to address a specific problem.
Fisher suggested there is, in fact, evidence to the contrary.
He pointed out there were undocumented individuals who had been arrested before Proposition 100 was approved who had been released without bail or after posting bond. He said they still showed up in court -- only to then be "needlessly remanded into state custody'' after the ballot measure took effect.
Montgomery has another hurdle to overcome: the breadth of the measure.
Fisher pointed out that Proposition 100 applies not just to those accused of serious offenses but "also relatively minor ones,'' like altering a lottery ticket with intent to defraud, unlawful copying of a sound recording, or theft of property worth between $3,000 and $4,000.
What Thomas did or did not do plays into this case in another way.
Appellate Judge Richard Tallman, dissenting from the majority ruling, said there was evidence of a sort presented: statements made by Thomas in favor of the measure during the 2006 campaign. Thomas argued that "far too many illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes have jumped bail and slipped across the border in order to avoid justice in an Arizona courtroom.''
But Fisher said that statement is not substantiated with any real data.
And he said "is not a credible source,'' having been disbarred two years ago on charges he used his office to "destroy political enemies'' and for filing unfounded criminal charges.
Follow Howard Fischer on Twitter at @azcapmedia.