|Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley|
Bombshell stuff at a press conference just completed in downtown Phoenix at the offices of interim Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley.
The biggest news was that a county grand jury last March rejected efforts by one of then-County Attorney Andrew Thomas' special prosecutors to issue major felony indictments against Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe, county manager David Smith, and several other county officials.
"This is outrageous behavior, absolutely outrageous, and this miscarriage of justice stops now," Romley said a few minutes ago.
He said that his office has turned over all of the newly released materials to the FBI, which is investigating Thomas, Arpaio and others for abuses of power in this and other issues.
So much for the ham sandwich theory, as in a grand jury would indict one if only a prosecutor would ask.
Instead, the grand jury stunningly decided to "end the inquiry," a rarely invoked action which tells the prosecutor that his or her case is an absolute stinker and should go no further.
The panel summarily tossed the political corruption case after hearing lengthy testimony from Sheriff Joe Arpaio's top aide, Chief David Hendershott.
(A Superior Court judge recently issued an order that allowed Romley's staff to unseal the secret grand-jury testimony, from which we will excerpt later).
What also emerged this morning is that (now on suspension with pay) deputy county attorney Lisa Aubuchon, who spearheaded the "corruption" case while working directly with Andrew Thomas tried to shop the moribund case against Donahoe and company weeks after the grand jury shot her down.
A few days before Thomas left his office in early April to run for Arizona Attorney General, Aubuchon sent the Donahoe case without prior notice to Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores.
Flores already was looking into potential criminal violations by county supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox because of a declared conflict-of-interest in Thomas' office investigating and/or prosecuting them.
Aubuchon asked Flores to follow-up "directly with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office on any matters," in other words to backdoor Thomas' replacement as Maricopa County Attorney--who turned out to be Romley, no friend to the Arpaio/Thomas camp.
Flores responded on April 5 in a letter that she copied to Sheriff Arpaio.
"I have no idea why Ms. Aubuchon would believe it is appropriate to submit this matter to me in this manner," County Attorney Flores wrote. "My office has made no charging decision in reference to this matter and we will not be contacting MCSO to discuss the matter. As Ms. Aubuchon was significantly involved in the original Stapley and Wilcox matters conflicted to my office, I would respectfully request that Ms. Aubuchon not initiate any communication with my office on any matter."
All of this is a BFD that one might think would open the eyes of the great unwashed in our community.
But who knows?
Before long, the Thomas and Arpaio camps will begin their reaction spins.
"We will continue our vigilant battle to uproot official corruption wherever it is--in the courthouse or at the Board of Supervisors, and we will not be deterred."
Analysis of predicted quote: Total bullshit.
Romley concluded at his presser, "This is not the law enforcement I love and have given my entire life to. I believe this is a clear abuse of power... The goal here was not to seek justice but to persecute those who dared oppose [Thomas and Arpaio],"
Analysis of Romley quote: