Andy Kunasek, Maricopa County Supervisor, to be Paid $123,000 by County Because of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas

kunasek 1.jpg
Andy Kunasek will receive a $123,110 settlement for the legal fees incurred while fighting bogus investigations launched by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

Another day, another six-digit award by Maricopa County to a victim of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

This time it's the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Andy Kunasek, who was framed for a crime he didn't commit as part of an apparent plan to usurp power from the Board of Supervisors.

Kunasek, a Republican who represents the county's north-central District 3, will receive $123,110 from the county to settle a claim he made in the aftermath of the multi-year squabble we call "county craziness."

The money will go entirely to pay off legal and investigation fees he incurred to fight the unethical legal attacks against him, Kunasek and his lawyer, David Derickson, say.


Kunasek was recently elected to his fifth term of office by voters; other Board members then made him chair of the Board for 2013.

The bogus criminal investigations and attempted prosecutions by Thomas resulted in the former prosecutor's disbarment last year.

Arpaio, not being a lawyer, can't be disbarred for his part in what a three-member state Supreme Court disciplinary panel likened to an "unholy alliance" between him and Thomas.

Despite the allegations, prosecutors at the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office decided in August that no criminal charges would be filed against Arpaio, Thomas, or their former employees, and voters re-elected Arpaio to a sixth term in November.

Arpaio blames nearly everything on his former chief deputy, Dave Hendershott. He claims, incredibly, that Hendershott "duped" him.

Kunasek became a major part of the Arpaio-Thomas scandal, and the third Supervisor to face criminal investigation by Arpaio's office. He was forced to hire a lawyer to defend himself, resulting a significant bill.

In his demand letter to the county, conveniently posted to the web by the Arizona Republic, Derickson writes that Arpaio and Thomas were motivated to win budget battles and enrich their own offices by going after Kunasek and other Board members.

As part of his duties as Board member, Kunasek oversees operations at the Sheriff's Office, (although Arpaio, as an elected official, also answers directly to voters.) Kunasek says he's not sure how to answer the question, "How can you trust Arpaio?"

"With the changes in personnel over there, they're not doing the same things," he says, referring to the fact that Hendershott is no longer there, and Jerry Sheridan, the new chief deputy, is seen as a reasonable guy.

Kunasek says he believes that Thomas -- whom he calls a "nutcase" -- was "the worst player in all of this. He could have and should have" stopped Arpaio from abusing the law.

arpaio and thomas racketeering presser.JPG
Image: Ray Stern
At a 2009 news conference, Arpaio and Thomas claimed Kunasek and others were part of what Arpaio dubbed a "Good Old Boy Corrupt Network."

Hardly a rousing endorsement of Arpaio.

But Kunasek has long been criticized for failing to hold Arpaio accountable for various misdeeds, (as in this recent post by New Times writer Stephen Lemons about Kunasek voting against a $3.25 million settlement for the family of Deborah Braillard, a diabetic woman who died after being denied proper medical care in jail.)

The relationship between the two elected officials can only be described as complicated.

Derickson says the $123,110 represents fees incurred by him and Phoenix private investigator Don Vogel, who proved crucial in several ways. For instance, when Kunasek became one of several officials, judges and lawyers that Arpaio deemed the "Good Old Boy Corrupt Network," Vogel's back-end research proved what the defendants already knew: That Arpaio and Thomas had no real case.

Arpaio and Thomas' bad actions have resulted in several big payoffs to their victims. Former County Judge Barbara Mundell received $500,000, as did Don Stapley's executive assistant, Susan Schuerman. Two other judges got $100,000 apiece, and the county's IT guru, Steve Wetzel, got $75,000. Mary Rose Wilcox was approved for a settlement of about $1 million, but the payoff is still under dispute.

Hendershott and one of Thomas' key henchwomen in his unethical actions, former prosecutor Lisa Aubuchon, who was also disbarred, tried to sue the people they once terrorized, claiming a conspiracy of retaliation and defamation. At a November hearing that Kunasek attended, a judge slapped them and their lawyer with more than $200,000 in sanctions for filing the "unintelligible" lawsuit. The trio is appealing the ruling.

Kunasek says he waited to make his claim for the legal fees until after he knew he wouldn't be called to testify in a criminal proceeding against the lawmen or their employees. The timing drew criticism from one of our loyal readers, who wrote to us, "Of course, waiting until after he was re-elected never entered his mind..."

Yet announcing the claim before the election wouldn't have made it any less valid.

People framed by rogue lawmen shouldn't have to pay six-digit defense fees.

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19 comments
MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

The first month of 2013 hasn't even been completed and Maricopa County taxpayers are already cutting 6-figure checks to our elected officials.

I personally think taxpayers oughta get a fat reimbursement check from Nazicopa County for all this bullshit.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

Torn on this one.  Yes, the charges were fraudulent and BS and no one should have to deal with that type of malicious prosecution whcih can both bankrupt a person and ruin their reputations and careers.  On the other hand, Kunasek is an elected official and not just a regular old citizen and if he couldn't handle the heat of politics he should have stayed out of the political kitchen.  It bothers me that those who are elected to lead our county are also looting it for more than a million dollars at this point (if you add in Mary Rose Wilcox's settlement).

robert_graham
robert_graham

It's always Joe's fault isn't it? It was a frivilous lawsuit to begin with.  He is just a gold digger.

teknik
teknik

oh, that's why it's n't jho's fault.  ol' an'drew should'a stop'd 'em!


Tommy_Collins
Tommy_Collins

It's interesting how this worm has turned over time. Before he was "investigated" I believe Andy sat and smirked at a public meeting as four people were arrested and led away, for applauding in a public place. All four since have been awarded judgements for their false arrests that day. Andy was certainly a part of that play, yet once he became expendable for the 'shurf' he was investigated. NEVER arrested, just investigate. Yes, all the potential charges were bogus, but Andy isn't nearly the victim that many others are and/or have been. He impresses me as being a sniveling dweeb who carries a bottle "feel sorry" in each pocket, just in case. Unfortunately he is the supervisor in my district. Ugggg....

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

Will Joke send his prune posse of kiddy stalkers to patrol Kunasek's house and yard at 2am?

logicman
logicman

@JoeArpaioFan another reason why it would be great to legalize.  Put the cartel out of business

FucktheBoarderPatrol
FucktheBoarderPatrol

@JoeArpaioFan  

Shut up douchbag, nobody gives a shit what your fagot ass thinks. Stick with sucking Arpaio's dick, its what you do best.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@Tommy_Collins  what did i tell ya Tommy, i said the flaccid failure wouldnt rest till he cost us taxpayers that billion dollar amount that he wants to hit before  he hangs up his depends. he's gonna have a busy year of settlements this year

Tommy_Collins
Tommy_Collins

@WhoKnows Nope. Their GPS units are all set in circles around certain schools. Interestingly, some of the schools on the list are privately funded. Why is MCSO, a tax funded agency, patrolling privately funded, 'for profit' schools, I wonder?

Tommy_Collins
Tommy_Collins

@JoeArpaioFan @Tommy_Collins Not at all. My implication was directly to Mr. Kunasek. Your inferrence was incorrect. Have your mother read my comments more carefully next time so you can understand my context.

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