Tampa Bay Rays Infielder Evan Longoria's Classic Camaro Stolen From Chandler Lot

Evan Longoria
While Tampa Bay Rays all-star third baseman Evan Longoria is swinging away in Florida as his team prepares for the upcoming season, thieves back in Arizona took off with his $75,000 Chevy Camaro.

Longoria's 1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS was one of two cars stolen out of the parking lot of a Chandler company between Saturday and Sunday. The other vehicle: a 1970 Buick GSX valued at $25,000, according to police.

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Louie Puroll Firing Put in Second Place by Chandler Mall Standoff

The best thing that happened to Louie Puroll and the Pinal County Sheriff's Office yesterday was the standoff out at the Chandler Mall, a made-for-TV incident that put the deputy's firing deep into second place, news-wise.

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Still, by now everyone who follows local news knows Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu fired the range deputy, a turn that not even a fanciful scriptwriter could have conjured.

Babeu's public information officer Tim Gaffney issued a press release that said Puroll's termination stemmed from statements he made to me during interviews for our November 23 story "Whitewash."
That piece was a follow-up to "Pinalcchio," our earlier examination of the the deputy's account of allegedly being shot by drug smugglers last April  out in the desert between Casa Grande and Gila Bend.

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Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy Louie Puroll to be Fired, Agency Sources Say

Sources inside the Pinal County Sheriff's Office say Sheriff Paul Babeu is prepared to fire controversial deputy Louie Puroll tomorrow.

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These sources say that an internal affairs investigation sustained all of the allegations against Puroll stemming from a series of wide-ranging interviews I conducted with the deputy in the aftermath of "Pinalcchio."

In that first story, published September 22, we examined the troubling details of what Puroll claimed was a wild gunfight last April with drug smugglers in the desert between Casa Grande and Gila Bend. 

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Leslie Nielsen, a Fart Machine, and the Sacred Halls of Justice

We will always remember Leslie Nielsen fondly for his classic comic portrayal of Detective Frank Drebin in the Naked Gun series and, of course, as the deadpan Dr. Rumack in Airplane!


("Surely, you can't be serious?" someone asked him in Airplane! "I am serious," Rumack replied. And don't call me Shirley.")

Mr. Nielsen's death a few days ago at the age of 84 reminded us of a wonderful moment years ago at the Maricopa County courthouse in downtown Phoenix.

We stepped into an elevator on the way up to a trial on one of the upper floors. A well-dressed older couple crowded in at the last second.

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Lacey Named New YORK Times Phoenix Bureau Chief -- Stop the Flippin' Presses!

We read that in yesterday's Romenesko, a well-read insider blog about the media that appears on the Poynter Institute's excellent Web site.


The boss of Village Voice Media and Phoenix New Times (who usually looks a little better than in this photo) didn't tell us he was planning on adding a new New to his resume.

Last we saw, he was doing a tongue-in-cheek take on rounding up illegal-immigrant Canadian Jews and sending  them back where they came from. (Check the parody out here, if you know how to smile and think a little at the same time.)

We thought that overseeing 14 news-weeklies around the country (Mike and partner Jim Larkin founded this one back when old Tricky Dick Nixon still was running things) might do it for him, especially in these lousy economic times.

Well, read on.

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Dennis Wilenchik Cleared of All Wrongdoing by AZ Bar -- No, Really

courtesy of the Arizona Republic
Dennis Wilenchik, home free

Dennis Wilenchik, the one-time special prosecutor whose investigation into New Times led to the nighttime arrests of its top executives, has been cleared of all wrongdoing by the State Bar of Arizona.

And, sadly, this isn't one of those New Times spoofs. The State Bar really has dismissed all claims against Wilenchik.

Three separate complaints were dismissed in June, July, and November of 2009, according to records obtained by New Times. Strangely, although New Times itself filed the complaint that was dismissed in July, the newspaper was never notified.

In fact, Steve Suskin, the attorney who filed the complaint for New Times, says no one from the Bar contacted him at any point in the investigation. Suskin actually learned about the dismissal from a New Times reporter.

Rick DeBruhl, the Bar's newly named chief communications officer, tells us that the lack of communication was due to the fact that numerous people filed complaints about the case. Suskin, he says, "was not the only complainant; other people complained as well, and all the complaints were rolled into one." At that point, the State Bar became the complainant -- so no one was notified when the case was closed.

The Bar is working on overhauling its processes, and DeBruhl promised that better communication will be a part of that: "We're going to do a better job of informing the people who are complaining."

Suskin said he disagreed with the Bar's decision. 

"The State Bar's dismissal of the detailed professional ethics charges against Mr. Wilenchik was underwhelming -- zero analysis of the facts and the law, and no real reasons cited in the decision," Suskin said. "The Bar never contacted us during their 'investigation,' nor even extended the courtesy of notifying us of their decision. Another pathetic episode for the rule of law in Maricopa County."  

The letter dismissing the New Times matter notes that Wilenchik failed to turn over all the materials demanded by investigators. It also mentions that there was "a robust debate" among attorneys at the Bar about whether they could prove by "clear and convincing evidence" that Wilenchik had violated the Rules of Professional Conduct.

But even though Wilenchik issued grand jury subpoenas without ever actually convening a grand jury, tried to involve the judge in the case in an ex parte meeting, and let things get so out of control to the point that the "victim" in the case, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, was able to arrest this newspaper's owners under the cover of night, the Bar ultimately decided that, well, there was nothing they could do about it.  

The Bar's acting chief counsel, Maret Vessella, wrote that after that robust debate, ultimately, "I exercised my perogative on the side of dismissal."

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Ten Random Thoughts as the Oughts (2000-2009) Fade Away

The following are 10 random things that, at the start of this weird decade, we never would have believed:

​1. That the historically pathetic Arizona Cardinals would move out to bumfuck Egypt (a.k.a. Glendale, a.k.a. sweet deal), and then would (at the end of the decade) find themselves exactly one play from winning the damned Super Bowl.

2. That Rick Romley, the conservative and often-maligned (by New Times, anyway) Maricopa County Attorney for 16 years would look like a saint (metaphorically, i.e. that's Romley in the photo) in comparison to his successor, the zealot Andrew Peyton Thomas.

3. That Bobby Khan, a semi-wild and crazy guy we met when he was working as a grunt firefighter at Station 21, in south Phoenix, would become the chief -- and a good one -- of the nation's fifth-largest city.

4. That an insignificant minor-league bully named Russell Pearce would finagle his way into such a powerful position in the Arizona Legislature.

5. That light rail actually would happen, and be pretty flippin' cool.

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County Attorney Thomas and Crew File "Special Action" in Arpaio Detention Officer Flap

We've just gotten word that the Maricopa County Attorney's Office has filed a "special action" with the Arizona Court of Appeals in legal protest of Judge Gary Donahoe's recent jailing of county Detention Officer Adam Stoddard.

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​We haven't yet seen the pleading, filed on behalf of Stoddard and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office by Deputy County Attorney Tom Liddy and local private attorney Michele Iafrate.

(Why yet more taxpayer dollars must be expended on a private lawyer with Liddy on the job is fodder for another time).

As of this morning, D.O. Stoddard allegedly remained somewhere within Sheriff Joe Arpaio's sprawling gulag (we picture a cozy little set-up replete with everything but dancing girls), serving an indefinite sentence on a civil of court contempt charge.

That sentence was imposed by presiding county criminal Judge Donahoe after the well-publicized October 19 on-camera/in-court pilfering by Stoddard of a criminal defendant's file. That's Stoddard to the right in the photo, just after he handed the defendant's private paperwork to the portly sheriff's deputy for copying.

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Animal-Rights Groups Scream (Crustaceans Are "Individuals," Too), as "Lobster Claw" Games Catch On in Valley Bars

Pizza, beer and lobsters? The lobster claw game at Bostons's Pizza Kitchen in Tempe.
It appears the claw's on the other foot for area lobsters as the newest rage in crustacean entertainment is hitting area bars harder than the whipping tail of a lobster heading for the boiler.

The Love Maine Lobster Claw, a product of a Maine based company with distributors in Phoenix called "Love Maine Lobster," is popping up in bars around Phoenix; here's how it works: It's nearly identical to crane games found in arcades and carnivals, where players navigate a robotic claw over a sea of stuffed animals, toys and other novelties, with the hopes of retrieving a prize for a first-date or a stuffed animal for a little sister. Well, replace the toys with live Maine lobsters and you have The Love Maine Lobster Claw.

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Andy Thomas Announces Busts in Landmark `Assisted Suicide' Case

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced a few minutes ago that investigators from his office have busted four people on murder charges in the 2005 "assisted suicide" death of a seriously mentally ill Phoenix woman.

New Times broke the news of this unusual and tragic case in 2007 in an extensive piece we called "Death Wish."

The four defendants -- who include retired Scottsdale resident Frank Langsner, a retired college professor -- have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Langsner and Wye Hale-Rowe, another so-called "exit guide" from the Final Exit Network (a national assisted suicide outfit based in Georgia), also are facing manslaughter charges.

Phoenix police records (and reporting by New TImes) showed Langsner and Hale-Rowe, both in their 80s, were present when 58-year-old Jana Van Voorhis (seen in the photo in her younger days) killed herself by inhaling helium through a hose, with an oxygen-eliminating hood snugly over her head.

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