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Aubuchon defends investigations into Maricopa judge, officials

Lisa Aubuchon (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Former Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon never wavered during testimony today from her belief that filing criminal charges and a racketeering suit against county supervisors and judges feuding with Andrew Thomas was legally justified.

State Bar Attorney Jamie Sudler questioned Aubuchon for five hours, demanding that the former prosecutor explain how the judges and county officials committed the crimes she alleged.

As Sudler went through individual allegations in the civil racketeering, or RICO, suit, she repeatedly was unable to provide specific details of the crimes she and former Maricopa County Thoma alleged, but she said instead that the allegations were based on patterns of actions of individuals.

“These are all just pieces of the puzzle,” Aubuchon said.

The State Bar is seeking to disbar Aubuchon and Thomas and suspend former Deputy County Attorney Rachel Alexander. Thomas is scheduled to testify Wednesday.

The State Bar alleges that judges and attorneys who crossed Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in political disputes were often targeted for investigations and, in some cases, criminally charged.

Aubuchon was the prosecutor on indictments against Maricopa County supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox. She also was the prosecutor in a criminal complaint against Judge Gary Donahoe and she drafted and filed the RICO case before handing it off to Alexander.

The RICO suit alleges that judges conspired with county supervisors, county managers and two private attorneys to cover up Stapley’s criminal acts and the financing of a planned court tower.

“It was a viable case,” Aubuchon said, adding that Thomas should not have stopped pursuing the cases.

Aubuchon said the RICO suit was filed because it was the best way for Thomas to regain control of his civil division. The Board of Supervisors stripped Thomas of funding for civil lawyers and established its own agency to provide legal representation in 2008 after Stapley was indicted.

Aubuchon was the third in the line of command in the office in March 2008 when Thomas told her that the office had received a tip that Stapley hadn’t properly disclosed financial information and he wanted her to look into it.

Previous testimony showed that Mark Goldman, a former campaign worker for Thomas who was working for free for the County Attorney’s Office, had done some research the year before on Stapley’s financial disclosure forms and properties he owned.

Aubuchon said she worked on the case for about a month and concluded Stapley had broken laws.

Sudler, seeking to show that the 118-count indictment against Stapley was overkill meant to be embarrassing, asked Aubuchon if it was appropriate to charge the supervisor for misdemeanors dating back to 1994.

“I felt he was guilty of those 118 counts,” she said.

Aubuchon answered questions in a matter-of-fact tone and she offered no regrets and stood by her assertions, even in the face of evidence that contradicted her claims.

At one point Sudler questioned her about allegations she made in a motion to remove Judge Kenneth Fields from the Stapley case. She wrote in the motion that Fields was biased because he filed a Bar complaint against Thomas, but Sudler pointed out that the complaint never mentioned Thomas and was actually against a special prosecutor Thomas hired, Dennis Wilenchik.

Aubuchon said a newspaper article Fields attached to the complaint referred heavily to Thomas, making it effectively against Thomas.

Sudler asked her again if she believed the Fields complaint was filed against Thomas.

“Yes,” she said.

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