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Boxing promoter pleads guilty in theft

A Phoenix boxing promoter pleaded guilty Nov. 18 to bilking a trainer out of $5,000 and trying to cover it up.

Peter McKinn III, 50, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 28, at which time the victim, boxing trainer Joe Diaz, plans to subpoena County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, former Boxing Commission Executive Director John Montano and others to expose what he says was a conspiracy to strip him of his license and livelihood in retaliation for his dispute with McKinn.

“We’re going to get them on the record,” said Diaz, who owns Top Level Boxing Gym in central Phoenix.

McKinn’s lawyer said Diaz is blowing a simple bad check case out of proportion and he has an over-inflated sense of McKinn’s influence.

“If he was able to influence anyone, would he have pleaded guilty today?” Brian Russo said after the proceeding in Maricopa County Superior Court.

McKinn declined comment.

Diaz laid out his theory of a far-flung conspiracy in a $43.2 million notice-of-claim, a precursor to a lawsuit against a government agency, filed Nov. 1.

Diaz contends McKinn wrote a bad $5,000 check to Diaz’s fighter, Luis Ramon “Yori Boy” Campas, in 2004 and proceeded to cover it up by getting an employee to forge a receipt.

Diaz testified at the Boxing Commission in 2005 against McKinn getting a renewal of his boxing promoter license. Wilcox was on the commission at the time.

Six months later, the commission refused to renew Diaz’s boxing license based on allegations he and Campas tried to steal money from the commission by claiming they hadn’t received payment for a match. That case was unrelated to McKinn’s case bad-check case.

Wilcox that year sent a 12-page fax containing a cover-page with county letterhead and a stamp that read “Joe Diaz Certified State Liar” to a deputy Maricopa County attorney who was in charge of a short-lived misdemeanor case against McKinn that stemmed from the $5,000 check.

Diaz wrote in his notice of claim that he fell $600,000 in debt after losing his license, which was renewed in April after he agreed to not sue the current Boxing Commission.

The Wilcox fax contained documents pertaining to the check, Diaz’s boxing license and previous disputes he had with McKinn, whose promotion company was affiliated with boxing giant Top Rank.

Diaz claims Wilcox worked behind the scenes to have the misdemeanor case against McKinn dismissed.

In the notice of claim, Diaz said he intends to sue the state and county and former Gov. Janet Napolitano, Wilcox and her husband Earl Wilcox, interim County Attorney Rick Romley and other officials.

Diaz added Napolitano to the claim because Earl Wilcox was working for her when she was governor and Diaz claims she ignored complaints filed with her office about the Wilcox influence on his case.

Diaz said Romley is included because he transferred the case to Gila County after deciding Mary Rose Wilcox’s involvement posed a conflict. Diaz said he never agreed to the transfer.

Cari Gerchick, a spokeswoman for Maricopa County, said any lawsuit would be dismissed because the statute of limitations has passed and because a suit Diaz filed in federal court was dismissed in 2007.

Under the plea agreement reached Nov. 18, McKinn will serve three years probation and at the end of that time the charges will be designated misdemeanors.

He pleaded guilty to theft, solicitation to commit perjury and solicitation to commit forgery, all low-level felonies.

Judge Michael Kemp said he will wait until sentencing to accept the plea agreement because he wants to hear from Diaz, who objects to the deal.

Kemp said he will reject the plea deal if he finds Diaz’s objection appropriate.

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