A high-profile Washington lawyer has been appointed as special prosecutor in an investigation into possible criminal acts by Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley.
Joseph diGenova prosecuted would-be Ronald Reagan assassin John Hinckley and presided over investigations into a disputed Teamsters union election and matters in the Bill Clinton White House.
Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced Oct. 5 that diGenova will be joined by Washington attorney Victoria Toensing and a local lawyer, David Eisenberg, who is a former assistant U.S. attorney.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested Stapley on Sept. 21 on suspicion of fraud, perjury and theft related to money that investigators say he moved between campaign funds and personal accounts.
But neither Thomas’ office nor the Yavapai County Attorneys’ Office, which is prosecuting another case against Stapley, had time to analyze the sheriff’s investigation within a statutory deadline so no charges were filed.
Thomas says diGenova is authorized “to conduct an independent investigation of these matters, including the authority to use the resources of the Maricopa County grand jury, for potential charging and prosecution.”
An earlier criminal case against Stapley, involving possible misstatements and omissions in his financial-disclosure forms, was dropped last month after it was discovered that Maricopa County never properly implemented laws regarding financial disclosure.
Special Prosecutor Mel Bowers, who is handling that case on behalf of the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office, may seek a new indictment against Stapley if the Arizona Court of Appeals overturns the Superior Court ruling that disqualified the financial-disclosure law.
Thomas passed the first case to Yavapai County to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, given his numerous legal battles with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
Stapley’s attorney, Paul Charlton, said Oct. 5 that he was concerned about the choice of the Washington law firm since it was his understanding from Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk that her office would handle the new allegations.