Arizona Prosecutors Spread Fear To Protect Access To RICO Cash

This week, two Arizona House committees will consider a bill; HB2477, aimed at bringing much needed reforms to civil asset forfeiture practices. In response, some Arizona prosecutors are spreading fear in an effort to preserve what has become a sizeable stash of cash.

Pinal County Attorney Chief of Staff Garland Shreves took fear mongering to a whole new level this weekend when he posted on Facebook that “HB2477 it is an anti- Law Enforcement bill and it will promote drug lords to bring and hold their blood money here in Arizona if this passes.”

Shreves called on “friends” to contact legislators and “state clearly your opposition. Law enforcement all across Arizona opposes this bill. Please support the new county Attorney in Pinal County Kent Volkmer and the New sheriff Mark Lamb. The Arizona Association of chiefs of police oppose this bill. The sheriff’s association opposes this bill Let’s kill it.”

At issue are funds generated by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The law allows law enforcement to remove “the tools of crime from criminal organizations” and deprive “wrongdoers of the proceeds of their crimes,” by recovering property that may be “used to compensate victims, and deter crime.” To that end, monies are to be used for law enforcement supplies and training in their efforts to specifically fight criminal organizations and/or aid victims.

Pinal County had served as the poster child for the misappropriation of RICO funds. Pinal County is also the subject of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. The organization is suing on behalf of a poor mother, whose only vehicle was taken by Pinal County after it had been borrowed by her son and used in a drug deal.

It was facts in that case, and the questionable use of funds for political purposes that led to Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles’ loss in the 2016 Republican Primary. Voyles was defeated by Kent Volkmer. Volkmer had pledge to clean-up the office. He also challenged the hyperbolic rhetoric of both Voyles and former Sheriff Paul Babeu regarding the dangers facing Pinal County residents.

Based on Shreves’ post, it doesn’t look like much has changed in Pinal County since Voyles had agreed to meet with staff from the Arizona Attorney General’s office to coordinate an attack on legislators like Rep. Bob Thorpe, who might dare to reform RICO spending and protect due process rights.

Arizona Attorney General staff member Don Conrad contacted Voyles in anticipation of the 2016 Legislative Session about dealing with RICO “attacks” (reforms)

While innocent citizens have their property confiscated by law enforcement officials without ever being charged with a crime, little to nothing happens to guys like Voyles and Babeu, who abuse their power and the funds.

For example, former Pima County Sheriff Chief Deputy Chris Radtke just last week, pled guilty to three misdemeanor counts of theft of public (RICO) money. The plea agreement includes a stipulated sentence of one year of probation with the special condition that the defendant will never seek a position in law enforcement or with Pima County and that seeking such a position will be considered a breach of the plea agreement.

Radtke didn’t even have to pay restitution to the taxpayers of Pima County despite the fact that he was charged originally with multiple felonies.

As the ADI reported last week, for approximately 18 years until July 2016, officers at the Pima County Sheriff’s Department engaged in a scheme to launder RICO/forfeiture funds to circumvent the strict restrictions on the use of those funds, according to admissions made in a court document filed in connection with the plea agreement. The officers collaborated together to make it appear that the Sheriff’s Department was donating the RICO/forfeiture funds to the Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers (SAV), although the funds were actually used by the Sheriff’s Department.

Although he admitted to being part of a conspiracy that spanned 18 years, it is unlikely that any of his co-conspirators will be charged at all.

It is unknown how many innocent people – if any – paid for the model airplanes and art Radtke and his cohorts bought with RICO funds.

Related articles:

Radtke Pleads Guilty To 3 Misdemeanors, Agrees Not To Work For Pima County Again

Radtke Files Notice, “Acting In The Interests Of His Employer”

RICO Funds: AZ AG Wants More Money, People Want More Protections

Profits Of Policing

Thorpe, Allen Continue Fight For Civil Forfeiture Reforms

ACLU Sues Pinal County For Enforcing Forfeiture Laws

5 Comments on "Arizona Prosecutors Spread Fear To Protect Access To RICO Cash"

  1. The Oracle of Tucson | February 13, 2017 at 8:20 am |

    Sadly we need to be protected by those that are here to protect us. Not just the RICO laws but almost anything that results in forfeiture or impoundment has turned into a unchecked, unregulated cash cow for law enforcement, and like any suckling child, they will resist getting off of the tit, until forced to.

    TOoT

  2. Richard Hernandez | February 13, 2017 at 8:59 am |

    I agree we must have a checks and balances system. It must have public oversight and authority to stop County Attorney’s like Barbara LaWall and other criminals who hide behind the law for illegal personal gains.

  3. When Clinton used the power of the supreme court in civil seizure laws. for the promotion of policing. Coupled then two years of paid police in a federal grant after those two years up the agency that took the monies now had to cover the cost of the grant. This was the vehicle that started policing for profit. Coffers swelled new facilities equipment retirement and personal. Departments borrowed to finance these improvements prosecution other agencies claim attachments more shared in the bounty.

    Then the fall of the DOT COM bubble and huge economical downturn, 9/11 feds handing out monies for terror agency consolidation to HLS. That spicket dried up with the banking failure guess what seizures swelled while at the same time forfeitures diminished. Cutting for the BS travel to conventions and funding tasks forces still not enough to cover note were coming due misspent bond monies. The public was on the hook for the bill refinance loan obligations how we going to fund this????? BINGO

    They can contribute into MPP and leglization of marijuana be all licenser, manufacturer, enforcer benevolent administrative balancer of counseling and continued monitored guidance and distributor of monies to other agencies. Now this is what I call policing for profit since Clinton. We haven’t even gotten to the payola and prison for profit Just how much can be seized both they seize from one agency to the other.

  4. All monies collect by state law must be deposited into state coffers. or the community as a whole pay the price while the a few reap the bounty.

  5. Dr. Charles A. Loftus Sr. | February 16, 2017 at 5:24 pm |

    RICO is a very powerful tool when used properly. At present there is little to no power for proper enforcement of misused funds or shady reporting. I supervised the AG’s RICO investigation section for around seven years and I consider myself one of the leading law enforcement authorities on RICO in Arizona.

    Do we need some changes? Yes.
    Do we need to limit the authority or limit RICO in AZ? No.

    In the past decade, several of the misuses have been centered around spending and reporting misuses, but I think there have been a very few application misuses. At present, there are virtually no “teeth” in Arizona statutes to enforce violations unless it is outright theft or fraud. The Libertarian leaning citizens have good reason to be concerned, but I support an incremental approach to resolve the problems we have recently observed. Give Arizona law enforcement the authority to enforce good and legal practices with RICO applications. RICO is a powerful tool to fight crime in Arizona, which happens to be one of the leading corridors of drugs, money and human smuggling into America.
    To tie the hands of Arizona Law Enforcement by restricting RICO would be a giant step backwards.

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