Vol. 15 Issue No. 38 | September 23 – 29, 2009

Stapley arrested on 93 new counts of theft, fraud and perjury

By Linda Bentley | September 23, 2009

‘He can say he's been the pillar of the community for 15 years … but what we've found is he's been concealing things from the public’

don stapleyPHOENIX – On Monday, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley at 9:30 a.m. on 93 new felony counts that include theft, fraud and perjury, and seven misdemeanor charges culminating from an eight-month investigation into Stapley’s business and campaign accounts.

A MCSO spokesperson said all of the new felony charges against Stapley are for fraudulent schemes involving his mortgage and loan businesses, tax return fraud and campaign account fraud, asserting he used campaign funds to pay personal bills and pad personal accounts.

According to MCSO, these charges are completely unrelated to the 118-count indictment from last December, 51 of which were tossed out by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fields last month and are currently pending appeal.

Although a headline read, “All charges dismissed against Stapley” last Friday, it was Chief Deputy Yavapai County Attorney Dennis McGrane who requested the 66 remaining charges against Stapley be dismissed because if the state is successful in its appeal of the 51 misdemeanor counts dismissed by Fields, McGrane can refile the 66 remaining charges at the same time.

The original case was transferred to the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office after conflict of interest issues were raised over Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas prosecuting the case.

According to the MCSO deputies who arrested Stapley in the county’s downtown parking garage, Stapley appeared agitated and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

MCSO detectives claim the supervisor committed mortgage and loan fraud and said Stapley “has a pattern and practice of misrepresenting his financial condition” for the purpose of securing loans.

Stapley is accused of lying on campaign finance reports from 2004 through 2008 and on Arizona tax returns between 2003 and 2007.

Former U.S. Attorney Paul Charleton, who is representing Stapley, called the arrest political and vindictive and likened it to tactics expected from a “third world dictatorship.”

Charleton also found it odd that Stapley was arrested before the sheriff’s office submitted its charges to the MCAO for review.

During his arraignment in January on the previous 118 counts, Stapley did not have to post bond, but was ordered to relinquish his passport and obtain permission from the court to travel out of state as a condition of release.

At the time, Charleton characterized Stapley as a “model citizen” who had been active in the community and a member of the Board of Supervisors for the past 15 years.

Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Aubuchon argued Stapley had been misleading the public with deceptive practices by failing to disclose various assets and business relationships, including land development companies associated with Conley Wolfswinkel, a convicted felon.

Aubuchon said at the time, “He can say he's been the pillar of the community for 15 years. But what we've found is in those 15 years, he's been concealing things from the public.”

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio denies Monday’s arrest was politically motivated and said it was based on probable cause – nothing out of the ordinary.

Arpaio said, “This is nothing different than what we do on a daily basis.”

Stapley was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail and was released later that day on his own recognizance.