VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 7   | FEBRUARY 16 – 22, 2011


Boxing promoter fraud case hits new snag at sentencing

Wilcoxes’ motion to quash subpoenas denied

joe diazFeeling a little closer to justice being served, Joe Diaz is pictured inside his Top Level Boxing Gym in downtown Phoenix holding up a T-shirt made for him using the Arizona Capitol Times front-page story about his 7-year ordeal.  Photo by Linda Bentley

PHOENIX – Earlier this month, boxing trainer Joe Diaz and his fighter Ramon “Yori Boy” Campas, the victims of boxing promoter Peter McKinn’s elaborate scheme to defraud them out of a $5,000 payment in May 2004, subpoenaed McKinn’s so far uncharged co-conspirators: Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and her husband Earl Wilcox, former Boxing Commission Director John Montano and former Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley, to testify at McKinn’s sentencing hearing on Feb. 7.

The Wilcoxes immediately filed a motion to quash the subpoenas and for fees.

A hearing on the motion was held on Feb. 3 before visiting Pinal County Superior Court Judge Bradley M. Soos.

A minute entry filed by Soos explains the court was set to hear the victims’ objection to the Nov. 17, 2010 plea agreement and set aside an hour during the Feb. 7 hearing for the victims to call witnesses and argue against the court accepting the plea agreement.

In their motion to quash, the Wilcoxes reference a “Notice of Claim” filed by the victims’ Attorney Edward Moriarity on Jan. 23, 2011 and accused him of “attempting to obtain discovery in his notice.”

“However,” Soos wrote, “the notice has nothing to do with either the defendant or the victims in this case.”

Soos went on to say the Wilcoxes did “not assert that they have no relevant knowledge or information pertaining to this case and thus this court need not address the underlying facts.”

The Wilcoxes instead challenged the subpoena on two other grounds, first, because the subpoenas misstated the applicable sanctions for failing to comply by warning of monetary sanctions rather than the issuance of a warrant for their arrest.

The victims conceded the mistake and asserted it was a harmless error that does not support quashing of the subpoenas.

Soos agreed and stated, “Petitioner Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County Supervisor having ready access to the advice of counsel, is presumably aware of the consequences of disobeying a court order. Other than pointing out this error, petitioners make no contention that they were misled or deceived by the wording of the subpoena, or that it had any impact on their decision of whether to willingly comply or raise a legal challenge.”

Second the Wilcoxes argued the Victims Bill of Rights does not give the victims subpoena power.

However, Soos noted state statute gives victims “standing” to seek an order to enforce any rights guaranteed under the bill of rights and the right to be represented by counsel in asserting any right.

Additionally, he stated the law allows a victim to “present evidence” at a sentencing proceeding.

Quoting from A.R.S. 13-4418, Soos stated the victims’ rights statutes “are to be liberally construed to preserve and protect the rights to which victims are entitled.”

While noting those rights are not unlimited, he said the court construes the constitutional and statutory language as conferring upon victims a right to subpoena witnesses and gather evidence at a hearing involving a negotiated plea and sentencing.

He wrote, “Indeed, a victim’s right to be present, to be heard, and ‘present evidence’ with the assistance of counsel would be significantly impaired without the ability to subpoena witnesses …”

Soos continued, “Based on these facts and circumstances, petitioners fail to provide this court with any legal basis to restrict the victims’ rights by precluding them from issuing subpoenas for the hearing,” and concluded, “[L]imitations on relevant evidence are properly exercised by the judge presiding over the hearing pursuant to Rule 403, Arizona Rules of Evidence, not by arbitrarily limiting a victim’s right to be heard.”

The day after Soos’ ruling, denying the Wilcoxes’ motion to quash, Judge Michael Kemp, to whom the case was assigned, suddenly needed to recuse himself from the matter and the case was reassigned to Judge Arthur Anderson.

The court also vacated the Feb. 7 sentencing hearing and instead scheduled a status conference for that day.

During the status conference, Anderson recommended McKinn’s counsel obtain a copy of the Presentence Report and “hi-light, for the court’s review,” his objections to certain portions of the report.

On November 2010, McKinn pled guilty to amended counts of theft, solicitation to commit forgery and solicitation to commit perjury, as undesignated class 6 felonies, meaning the charges could later be designated misdemeanors if McKinn completes the conditions of his sentencing and probation.

Diaz and Campas object to the dismissal of the second theft charge and the charge of fraudulent schemes and artifices.

Discussion and oral arguments were held regarding the plea agreement, including statements from Diaz.

Anderson indicated he had some reading to do and would issue a follow-up minute entry.

Two days after attending McKinn’s Feb. 7 status conference hearing, Antoin Yelda, who owns Alamo Liquor, was finally able to file a bad check report with Phoenix Police Department for a third-party check McKinn cashed at his store for $1,500 on Sept. 20, 2005.

The check was made out to MBP Promotions, a non-existent entity, per McKinn’s instructions.

Les Williams, who owns the Ramada Inn in downtown Phoenix, where fighters were going to hold their weigh-ins, wrote the check to pay for tickets and banners for a boxing match McKinn was promoting at the Dodge Theater.

However, when McKinn didn’t deliver the tickets and banners as promised, Williams placed a stop-pay on the check.

However, since McKinn had already cashed the check at Alamo, Alamo got stuck with the bad paper.

While Yelda attempted to file a bad check report with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office at that time, Deputy County Attorney Andrea Kever refused to prosecute.

Kever was also the MCAO prosecutor who dropped the original charges against McKinn after Supervisor Wilcox faxed a forged receipt and false affidavit stating Diaz was paid $5,000 in cash for the bad check.

And, according to Diaz, not if, but when justice is served, there are some corrupt politicians who just may end up spending some time at the “Graybar Hotel.”

He’s lived through their lies and corruption for the past seven years and says, “It’s about time.”