Lando Voyles, Pinal County Attorney, Says Fired Prosecutors Were Never Suspected of Crimes; Earlier Statement May Have Left "Mistaken Impression"
Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles wants the public to know that a group of prosecutors he fired a few months ago were never suspected of any crimes.
Lando Voyles, Pinal County Attorney, said in a statement on Friday that a January 2nd email he sent to reporters may have left a "mistaken impression" about a group of fired prosecutors.
The unusual email blast sent to reporters and others today is intended to clarify a January 2nd email that "may have left the mistaken impression" that the prosecutors were involved in an embezzlement case he mentioned in the same January email.
Jim Knupp, the Pinal County Attorney's Office spokesman, tells New Times that the office had received a notice of intent to sue related to the January email. Knupp wasn't able to immediately provide the document; we'll update this post when we get it.
The new email mentions six of 16 fired employees by name:
"My January 2, 2013 News Release was not, in any way, intended to convey that Paul Ahler, Kristy Perkins, Stacey Heard, James Heard, Neil Miller, Susan Crawford or any of the other attorneys I dismissed have ever been suspected of any improper or illegal activity. All of these individuals are devoted public servants whose integrity should not be questioned. I regret any confusion that may have been created from my January 2, 2013 News Release."
It's easy to see from the January email how someone could have gotten the wrong impression. Voyles wrote back then, " "We are currently investigating theft that occurred within the office. While the individual remains innocent until proven guilty, the former management failed the citizens of Pinal County by allowing this theft to go on for an undetermined amount of time and for an undetermined dollar amount."
One way to read that sentence is the way Voyles intended it -- the theft occurred at least in part because managers weren't paying attention. Another way to read it is that one or managers knowingly allowed the theft to go on. Voyles just needed a better editor.
Someone on the fired list -- who's probably on that short list of named former prosecutors in the latest email -- apparently feels defamed.
James Walsh, former Pinal County Attorney, told the Arizona Republic in January that Voyles' stated reasons for the "Pinal County Massacre" exaggerated the problem and tarnished the fired employees' reputations.
Walsh said the investigation to which Voyles had referred concerned "potential irregularities in the handling of restitution payments and associated fees" and that the employee had resigned after Walsh initiated a criminal investigation and prepared to put the person on leave.
In other words, according to Walsh, the problem was solved before Voyles took office in January.
"There was no other financial irregularity in the office, and anybody who says there is is lying," Walsh told the Republic. "This has got to stop ... he doesn't get to lie about people, and he doesn't get to lie about the work that was done before he came in."
It's unclear if the investigation into the allegation was ever completed, or if anyone was prosecuted. We're expecting to hear back from Knupp on that, too.
On the next page, see the two emails in their entirety: