BY LINDA BENTLEY | MARCH 16, 2011
Boxing promoter balks at jail, granted continuance
‘What started out as a bounced check … turned into a witch hunt perpetrated by some of Arizona’s leading public officials’
Boxing trainer Joe Diaz, who trained championship fighters such as Ramon “Yory Boy” Campas in his Top Level Boxing Gym, has been using his gym for the past several years to also fight for justice and against government corruption.
Photos by Linda Bentley
PHOENIX – On March 11, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson granted Top Rank boxing promoter Peter McKinn a two-week continuance for sentencing to allow for a mitigation hearing.
Freddie Molina, a member of McKinn’s entourage, was the only person sitting with McKinn on his side of the courtroom.
Others attending included boxing trainer Joe Diaz, supporters and attorneys for Diaz and his fighter Ruben “Yory Boy” Campas, the victims of McKinn’s elaborate fraudulent scheme to cover up a bad $5,000 check he wrote to Campas in May 2004.
At McKinn’s behest, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox used her supervisory position and position as chairman of the Arizona State Boxing Commission to perpetuate the fraud by faxing a forged receipt and perjured affidavit to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to get the charges dropped against McKinn, while denying licenses to Diaz and Campas.
McKinn also involved John Montano, executive director of the boxing commission, and Wilcox’s husband Earl Wilcox, who, as special assistant to Governor Janet Napolitano, used his position to try to intimidate Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Carlos Mendoza into dismissing the charges against McKinn.
McKinn pled guilty in November 2010 to three amended counts of theft, solicitation to commit forgery and solicitation to commit perjury as class 6 undesignated felonies, reduced from the original indictment charging him with five felony counts, including theft (class 3), fraudulent schemes and artifices (class 2), forgery (class 4), perjury (class 4) and conspiracy to commit theft (class 3).
During last Friday’s hearing, Anderson addressed the plea agreement and the aggravated circumstances surrounding the case from May 2004 until September 2009.
Anderson appeared resolute in keeping the amended charges as felonies and asked Gila County Deputy Attorney Pascal Brown to cite any cases in which felonies of that magnitude were ever reduced to misdemeanors, stating he was unable to find any.
While Brown indicated it was common practice in Gila County, he was unable to cite any cases.
Defense Attorney Brian Russo said the court was making it sound like there was ongoing activity and stated “that is simply not the case.”
The victims’ attorney Edward Moriarity told the court his clients objected to the conspiracy charge being dismissed and stated the reason the indictment took so long was because Phoenix police spent almost a year trying to get McKinn to provide its handwriting expert with a handwriting exemplar.
Before allowing Diaz to speak to the court, Anderson called the three attorneys to the bench for an off-the-record conference.
Diaz then told the court how McKinn’s fraudulent scheme destroyed his and Yory Boy’s boxing careers over the past several years.
He said nobody should be able to use their connections with people in power as McKinn did and kids who train to be boxers “shouldn’t have to kiss anybody’s ring to fight.”
Diaz, who is now in his 70s, told Anderson he recently had to go back to work as plumber because he lost all the kids he was training.
He explained how McKinn, who collaborated with Wilcox and others, “sent fraudulent documents that destroyed me.”
Moriarity elaborated by stating, “It starts out with a $5,000 check, which goes on for almost a year. Then, Mr. McKinn went to Mary Rose Wilcox, boxing commission chair and lifelong friend, and brought her forged documents. He had Mary Rose Wilcox fax the forged documents to the prosecutor to have the charges dismissed.”
After explaining Earl Wilcox’s involvement in attempting to get a judge to dismiss the charges against McKinn, Moriarity said McKinn submitted forged documents to a U.S. district judge as well as to the boxing commission.
He said Campas was denied a license because Diaz was his trainer and it took Campas one year to get his license back and six years for Diaz to get his license reinstated.
Moriarity told Anderson, “I think you have a fair understanding” and stated the damages to Diaz and Campas included the loss of five to seven years of their lives, adding, “Campas is 40 years old and still has to fight.”
Moriarity requested, “If the plea is accepted, that the felonies remain felonies until Mr. McKinn meets all conditions of probation,” which includes $25,000 restitution to Campas and Diaz.
Russo said he was confused and stated, “Mr. Moriarity is being disingenuous. He needs ‘conspiracy’ to bring all these other people in.”
He said, “We’re talking about a $5,000 check. If these people are damaged by that then they should find another profession.”
McKinn appeared agitated and surprised when his attorney informed him Anderson was considering jail time as one of the conditions of probation.
Anderson stated, “I said I was contemplating jail and said so early on,” while acknowledging it was a $5,000 check case that “blossomed into other charges.”
He said, “Jail time is among the outcomes I am seriously considering. I’m just giving you my perspective … I think I have a pretty good handle on this.”
The additional two Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies in the courtroom that were not present during previous proceedings seemed to confirm jail time was inevitable.
Russo moved for a continuance and requested a mitigation hearing, or, in the alternative, for the court to reject the plea agreement.
Anderson denied Russo’s motion to reject the plea agreement, granted his motion for a continuance and scheduled a mitigation and sentencing hearing for 1:30 p.m. on March 25.
Pedro Fernandez, editor of RingTalk.com and the host of the boxing radio show Ring Talk, now in its 25th year, has been following this case for the past seven years.
Fernandez exposed Top Rank CEO Bob Arum back in the mid 1990s after Arum admitted in an affidavit to bribery, tax evasion, money laundering and other acts.
Arizona then became the only state that refused to license Top Rank and Top Rank needed a front man without a felony record for Arizona, which is why Arum brought in McKinn.
However, since Anderson accepted McKinn’s plea agreement on Friday, it appears Top Rank is, once again, fresh out of non-felons in Arizona.
Fernandez, a former San Francisco police officer and four-time Golden Gloves champion, plans to fly in and testify at McKinn’s mitigation/sentencing hearing on March 25, and said he can’t imagine what kind of rabbit McKinn’s attorney can possibly pull out of his hat for mitigation.
He said, “What started out as a bounced check for $500 to Norm Longtin, (which Diaz covered so Campas could keep his belt) and a $5,000 bounced check to Campas, turned into a witch hunt perpetrated by some of Arizona’s leading public officials.”