BY LINDA BENTLEY | NOVEMBER 10, 2010
Supervisor Wilcox focus of $43 million claim in boxing check dispute
Wilcox vouched for McKinn’s credibility while branding Diaz a liar
PHOENIX – A joint notice of claim for $43 million was served Nov. 1 on behalf of Joseph A. Diaz and Luis Ramon Campas against the state of Arizona; former Governor Janet Napolitano; Earl Edward Wilcox, special assistant to Napolitano; the Arizona Boxing Commission; Mary Rose Wilcox (Wilcox), individually and in her capacities as boxing commission chair and Maricopa County Supervisor for the Fifth District; Executive Director of Boxing John Montano; the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors; and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, including acting County Attorney Richard M. Romley.
Others named in the claim include Top Rank, a corporation; Peter McKinn, III, an employee of Top Rank; and Gabriel Esqueda, an employee of Top Rank and/or McKinn.
Diaz, a small business owner licensed by the state of Arizona as a boxing trainer, and Campas, a professional fighter from Mexico who is licensed by the state of Arizona, claim to be the victims of a series of acts that include theft, perjury, fraud, forgery, retaliation, defamation, conspiracy, RICO (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization) violations, tortuous interference with a contract, violations of certain constitutional rights and numerous other malicious acts committed by those named above.
This all started back in May 2004 when Campas participated in a boxing match promoted by McKinn and, as part of the purse, McKinn wrote Campas a nonsufficient funds check for $5,000. Despite numerous attempts to cash the check, it was never honored by the bank and the account upon which it was written was eventually closed.
The boxing commission has a duty to make sure fighters are paid and to resolve disputes regarding payments, and as Diaz attempted to get the commission to compel McKinn to make good on the check, he also objected to the renewal of McKinn’s promoter license when it came before the commission.
As Diaz began looking into the records from previous fights in which Campas and other Mexican boxers participated, he found what appeared to be other shortages.
When Top Rank and McKinn caught wind of Diaz’s probe, they made it more difficult for fighters trained by Diaz to get fights and for them to keep scheduled matches.
In the late fall of 2004, McKinn, through Montano at the boxing commission office, tried to prevent Diaz from bringing charges against him. However, Diaz refused to drop the matter.
In December 2004, Diaz signed a formal complaint against McKinn for the $5,000 bounced check.
On Jan. 3, 2005, the day before the scheduled boxing commission meeting, which included the renewal of McKinn’s license, Montano visited Diaz’s gym. Montano told Diaz he had information from McKinn and another party that Diaz had accepted a bribe.
Montano ended up drafting a report to the commission recommending no action be taken against McKinn and McKinn’s license was renewed.
The commission said Montano had investigated the matter. However, according to Diaz, Montano only obtained information from McKinn, completely disregarding the facts provided by Diaz surrounding the bad $5,000 check.
During the Jan. 4, 2005 boxing commission meeting, Diaz objected to the renewal of McKinn’s license and said, while he was speaking, Wilcox and McKinn walked out. When they returned, Wilcox led the motion to renew McKinn’s license, ignoring the issues raised by Diaz.
Diaz subsequently filed a complaint against McKinn with the Maricopa County Attorney and, on Jan. 25, 2005, Deputy County Attorney Andrea Kever sent McKinn a letter, giving him until March 11, 2005 to make the check good or be prosecuted.
In April 2005, Diaz said Wilcox made a “chairperson ruling” that the bad check was a civil matter between McKinn and Campas.
However, according to A.R.S. 13-1807(E) of the criminal code, a person commits issuing a bad check if the person issues the check knowing there are not sufficient funds on deposit with the bank and, issuing a bad check in an amount of $5,000 or more is a class 6 felony.
On April 7, 2005, after repeated failure to respond to each summons issued by Kever, McKinn was charged with the check violation.
On July 15, 2005, Earl Wilcox and Mckinn, with Esqueda waiting in the hall, entered the chambers of Judge Carlos Mendoza who was presiding over the case.
According to Mendoza, Earl Wilcox introduced himself as the Special Assistant of Governor Janet Napolitano and the husband of Mary Rose Wilcox, a member of the board of supervisors, which sets the judicial budget, and demanded the charges against McKinn be dismissed.
Mendoza said he felt intimidated and believed there was an attempt to bribe him, as he was offered a position as a medical director with a salary of $110,000 the very next day.
Records indicate McKinn, now facing criminal charges, and Esqueda decided to manufacture false evidence.
McKinn had Esquida sign a false affidavit premised upon a forged receipt they manufactured on April 20, 2005 indicating Diaz signed the receipt in exchange for $5,000 cash. Esquida stated, under oath, that he had given $5,000 cash to Diaz on May 8, 2004 and even provided the denomination of bills.
Diaz never signed any such receipt and neither he nor Campas received payment for the bad check.
The forged receipt and affidavit was presented by McKinn as evidence to Maricopa County Superior Court, U.S. District Court, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and the Arizona Boxing Commission in an effort to convince each that it was Diaz who was being untruthful, despite the fact two separate handwriting experts, including one from the Phoenix Police Department, concluded the receipt had been forged.
At the time of the check dispute, the Wilcoxes, both long time friends of McKinn, owned a boxing gym in Phoenix, which was in direct competition with Diaz’s gym.
When Wilcox learned the investigation against McKinn had been reopened, she contacted McKinn to provide him information she obtained through her position as boxing commission chair and to advise him to “keep his mouth shut and not talk to investigators.”
While there was no reason for Wilcox, the boxing commission or the board of supervisors to interfere with the prosecution of McKinn, on April 20, 2005, Wilcox, in her capacity as boxing commission chair, obtained copies of the perjured affidavit and forged receipt, the day after Diaz asserts they were manufactured. And, in her capacity as a member of the board of supervisors, using Maricopa County letterhead and resources, Wilcox sent a 12-page fax to Kever demanding the charges against McKinn be dropped.
In that correspondence, Wilcox vouched for McKinn’s credibility while branding Diaz a liar by including a document stamped: “JOE DIAZ – Certified State Liar,” and writing “approved” under the stamp.
In June 2006, when Napolitano was apprised in writing about the use of the stamp and Earl Wilcox using his position with her office as part of the conspiracy to get the charges against McKinn dismissed, she did nothing. By doing so, Diaz asserts she became part of the conspiracy to label McKinn the “good guy” and get the charges against him dismissed, while allowing government officials to label Diaz the “Certified State Liar.”
Diaz believes Wilcox‘s interference “clearly constituted a misuse of her position and power.”
And, as a result of Wilcox’s fax, Kever filed a motion to dismiss the charges against McKinn, which was granted on July 27, 2005.
It wasn’t until the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office reopened the investigation in June 2009 that both McKinn and Esqueda confessed to preparing the forged receipt, signing the perjured affidavit and purchasing the “Certified State Liar” stamp from the Phoenix Rubber Stamp Co.
The evidence resulted in five felony charges, including theft, fraud, perjury, forgery and conspiracy to commit theft, being filed against McKinn, who was arrested in October 2009.
In May 2010 Diaz learned Romley transferred the case to Gila County where McKinn was offered a plea agreement, dismissing the conspiracy and fraud charges, which Diaz said most involved the other individuals, especially Wilcox, and to which he and Campas strenuously objected.
Additionally, Romley, a long time political ally of the Wilcoxes, fired the prosecutor involved in McKinn’s indictment.
Diaz says the conspiracy to protect McKinn from prosecution continues, as the case languishes in court without being set for trial, causing Diaz and Campas to suffer substantial damages, for which they are claiming $21.6 million each.