Andrew Thomas, Lisa Aubuchon, and Rachel Alexander Ordered to Pay Back Discipline Costs
Andrew Thomas, Lisa Aubuchon, and Rachel Alexander have been ordered to pay back $101,294 in restitution for the cost of their disciplinary proceedings.
Image: Ray Stern Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas
Thomas, a former Maricopa County Attorney, and Aubuchon, his go-to deputy, were disbarred last year in high-profile proceedings that followed several years of intrigue and corruption committed with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. A three-member panel that included the state's Disciplinary Judge, William O'Neil, found that Arpaio and Thomas launched unethical attacks on their county political enemies with the help of Aubuchon.
Though the panel likened the actions of Thomas and Arpaio to an "unholy collaboration," the sheriff was re-elected in 2012 to a sixth term. Punishment fell on Thomas, Aubuchon, and Alexander, who ran afoul of state ethics rules for lawyers.
Alexander received a lesser punishment of suspension of her law license for six months and a day for her role in pushing a flaky racketeering lawsuit against county leaders, judges, and lawyers.
The restitution order, signed December 16 by Judge O'Neil, is a lot less than the $554,000 bill the State Bar of Arizona submitted last year for its successful effort in "prosecuting" the prosecutors. But the six-digit figure is unquestionably onerous for the trio, whose ability to pay it is hampered by their derailed careers.
The bad prosecutors and the State Bar agreed on the new amount several days before O'Neil approved it. State rules allow bills for disciplinary restitution to be lowered as necessary, and the fact that the trio was ready to accept their fate and sign any restitution order was seen as "good cause" for a cost reduction.
"The hearing panel recognizes that the costs and expenses [are] likely greater than those actually incurred," states the four-page approval order.
Thomas is running for governor, with chances of winning somewhere south of former gubernatorial candidate Cary Dolego. He's been writing for a right-wing think-tank, and we imagine he must be almost done by now with a book about his troubles.
Aubuchon, unlike Thomas, appealed her disbarment. But she was shot down in September by the Arizona Supreme Court, leaving her with no law license and plenty of bills to pay.
Alexander, meanwhile, of the Intellectual Conservative blog, moved in with her mom in Seattle, and in January was blog-begging for money to pay for her cat's surgery. Alexander also appealed her sanctions and had the "one day" part of her punishment cut, making it easier for her to someday regain her law license.
The trio must pay the $101,293.75 in restitution "jointly and severally," a legal phrase that means each person is liable for the whole thing, not just one-third of it. In other words, if Alexander -- who still has a chance at being an Arizona lawyer again -- pays $33,000 and the other two pay nothing, Alexander's still not off the hook. Without help from her former buddies, theoretically, she'd have to pay the entire amount herself for the restitution to be considered cleared.
This rule zapped Alexander when she re-applied to be a lawyer earlier this month. Her 25-page application is mainly filled with certifications proving she's taken the required Continuing Legal Education classes. The State Bar of Arizona, in a five-page rebuttal on December 16, rejected her application because the restitution hasn't yet been paid.