Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Seal
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
Justice for All
April 2019
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office is dedicated to seeking justice, and a great part of that is assisting victims of crime and protecting their rights just as we protect the rights of the accused. While we don’t represent them as legal counsel, our Victim Services Division is there to help victims navigate the legal process, remain informed of the status of their case and find resources to help them with the emotional, psychological and financial consequences of crime.
April 7
13 is Crime Victims Rights Week, during which we place a special focus on those who dedicate their lives and careers to ensure the rights of victims are foremost in our justice system. That week, State leaders and representatives from law enforcement agencies will gather together for a ceremony to honor and recognize individuals who have advocated on behalf of crime victims and their families, and victims who have overcome great adversity to make an impact on others.
April is also Sexual Assault Awareness month, and we have an update for you on our success in working with local law enforcement agencies, healthcare providers and others to clear the backlog of sex assault kits, thanks to grants offered by the District Attorney of New York and Bureau of Justice Assistance.
It’s time again for our annual Mega Shred-A-Thon held at the International Paper facility in downtown Phoenix on April 15. So, protect your information and identity by gathering your unwanted and outdated documents and bring them to the event to be safely disposed.
Most of all, enjoy the beautiful spring weather that Maricopa County has to offer.

Bill Montgomery Signature

Courts Are Using Prisons Less,
County Programs are Succeeding

With recent coverage regarding proposed criminal justice legislation and characterizations of the use of prison in resolving cases from Maricopa County, MCAO took a close look at case disposition data from the Administrative Office of the Courts. Specifically, we reviewed annual statistical reports available at and found the below information that we thought would be helpful in fully covering this topic.

The graph below shows that courts across Arizona are sentencing defendants to prison less now than any other time in the last eight years. In just the past four years, there has been a significant and steady decline seen year-over-year. This is also reflected in the ongoing year over year decline in the number of inmates incarcerated in Arizona’s prisons. Also notable, even while Maricopa County’s share of the state’s population has steadily increased to more than 60%, Maricopa County actually now accounts for less than half of the state’s prison commitments. This means Maricopa County has outpaced the statewide reduction of nearly 13% in prison commitments with over 30% fewer prison commitments over the last eight years. In fact, when reviewing DOC Commitments and population growth since FY 2010, Maricopa County has reduced the rate of imprisonment by 37%.

Graphs - 1) Felony Commitments, 2) State/County Population Growth

There are three main areas of emphasis contributing to these results. The first is the continued use of diversion programs and deferred prosecution to reduce the likelihood of first time offenders returning to the criminal justice system. More information on these programs is here: Another contributing factor is the success seen with Adult Probation and programs offered through probation in reducing the number of probationers who commit a new felony and face being sentenced to prison on the new offense. Another contributing factor is the continuing emphasis on reserving a prison sentence for those who pose the greatest risk of causing harm to our community through either repetitive offenses or crimes of violence.
The graph below shows that probation grants have steadily increased over the last four years, while prison commitments have steadily declined. For the last reported year, FY2017, 77% of criminal case dispositions resulted in a grant of probation while only 23% were for prison.

Graph - County Dispositions

This data reflects MCAO’s commitment to seeking justice through a conscientious effort to identify the most appropriate disposition for various types of offenders. Just as there is not any one given way to commit a crime, there is not a one-size fits all approach to promoting public safety.

Seeking Justice for Victims of Sexual Assault

SEKI Backlog

Ending the backlog of unsubmitted sexual assault kits has been a focus of elected leaders and law enforcement in Arizona and is a movement our Office has been a leader of since 2015.
Recently, MCAO’s SAKI Site Coordinator, Cesar Tirado, attended the Manhattan District Attorney’s Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Grant Program press event which took place in New York City and highlighted the efforts and results of this three-year $38 million project to help end the backlog nationwide.
From 2015 to 2018, the Manhattan District Attorney's Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Grant Program allotted grants to 32 jurisdictions in 20 states, leading to the testing of more than 55,000 kits.

Nationwide, the results from those tests led to 186 arrests and 64 convictions.
Locally, MCAO has indicted 14 defendants, with 7 of them already convicted while the others are pending trial. Countywide, there was a total of 4,599 rape kits in the backlog; 93% of which have been submitted for testing and 85% have been tested to completion, so they can be entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)

Walking a criminal to their cell

“When their DNA is put into CODIS, it often matches up to other cases as well,” said Rachel Mitchell, Special Victims Division Chief at MCAO. “So now you don’t have a victim standing alone. For example, you may have two or more victims that have matched up through DNA.”
In September 2015, District Attorney of New York County (DANY) awarded grants to 32 sites around the country to facilitate the testing of these kits. MCAO was among the recipients, receiving $1.9 million to test 2,300 previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits. We used the money to test over 3,000 kits which registered 671 CODIS hits.
A year later, in October 2016, MCAO was awarded a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) through its Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant program to continue what the DANY award started. This grant provided money to test the rest of the backlog in Maricopa County. It also funded a full-time program coordinator, a full-time detective, and a part-time prosecutor to continue our efforts in ending the backlog and to provide support and resources to our law enforcement partners in the investigation and prosecution of these cases.
In September 2017, MCAO was awarded a second SAKI grant of more than $1.1 million to fund a second full-time detective, a full-time criminal intelligence analyst, a part-time victim advocate, and money to provide training to our law enforcement partners in the implementation of the Maricopa County Sexual Assault Protocol which was released in December 2017. The efforts to complete this protocol were multi-disciplinary and included representatives from various police departments, crime laboratories, forensic nurses, prosecutors, and victim advocates.
In September 2018, MCAO was awarded a third SAKI award of $1.5 million to continue our efforts to end the backlog, provide funding for additional/advanced DNA testing of any cold-case sexual assault case, hire a third SAKI detective, and to provide training and research.
“We’ve been using the funding from the DANY and SAKI grants to contract with outside laboratories, and then local law enforcement agencies have been sending untested kits to those laboratories,” said Mitchell. “Now that we have gone to a test-all philosophy, the goal is to not have any backlog, but obviously that takes resources.”
In February, MCAO hosted its first major SAKI training event, the Maricopa County SAKI Sexual Assault Conference. We had a total of 185 participants attend this two-day training conference which received great reviews. We are in the process of scheduling next year’s sexual assault conference and have also restarted the Arizona Sex Assault Investigators Network which provides sex crimes investigators the opportunity to share information about suspects/serial offenders with other jurisdictions, ask for suggestions/assistance, and network with other working detectives and sex crimes prosecutors. These meetings take place every 3–4 months and are followed by training sessions.
There’s still a lot of work to do—and testing the kits in the backlog is just the first step. We will continue to support our law enforcement partners in their follow-up investigations as they continue to receive results back from the lab in these cases, and ultimately, prosecute sexual assault offenders and provide justice to our victims in Maricopa County.


If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, please contact your local law enforcement agency immediately by dialing 9-1-1.

If you're looking for resources to deal with a sexual assault issue, please visit:

Honoring Our Past. Creating Hope for the Future.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week 2019 Graphics

During the first week of April, many across the nation will be observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The commemoration runs from April 713 and focuses on honoring and upholding the rights of crime victims and their families. It is a focus of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office that surpasses not just the week, in fact it is a cornerstone of the Office’s year-round commitment to our community.
National Crime Victims' Rights Week was originally proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and shortly after, Arizona became one of the first states to introduce a constitutional amendment guaranteeing specific rights for crime victims in 1988. Then in 1990, Arizona voters overwhelmingly passed an initiative creating the Arizona Victims’ Bill of Rights. In 1991, legislation was implemented guaranteeing specific rights for crime victims including the right to be present at criminal proceedings, to be heard in court and to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. Our state also provides a range of support services—including financial assistance—to help crime victims and their families cope with the multiple impacts of a serious crime.
During Crime Victims’ Rights Week, MCAO will participate in two events to honor both those who have been victims of crime and those who serve them. The first event is a luncheon and awards presentation on April 10 at the El Zaribah Shrine Auditorium in Phoenix. State leaders and representatives from law enforcement agencies will honor and recognize individuals who have advocated on behalf of crime victims and their families. Award presenters will include Governor Doug Ducey, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Colonel Frank Milstead, Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan, and Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections Director Jeff Hood.
The luncheon will feature keynote speaker Jon Kyl who was the original sponsor of the effort to amend the U.S. Constitution to protect crime victims’ rights.
On April 9, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office will hold an internal awards ceremony recognizing employees, law enforcement partners and community members who have shown exceptional service to the rights of victims. Awardees will also include victims who have shown exceptional strength in the face of adversity and pain. We honor those individuals for all their efforts to make our community a better place to live.

MCAO Citizen Safety Forum

On March 19, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office partnered with the Paradise Valley Police Department to host a Citizen Safety Forum for local residents. County Attorney Bill Montgomery gave an overview of crime in Arizona and Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert talked about crime trends unique to the community. Approximately 100 people came out to hear presenters from both agencies talk about how to avoid becoming a victim of residential burglaries and what to know about active shooter—or active-threat—scenarios.

Photo collage from the MCAO Citizen Safety Forum

MCAO Volunteers Help Canine Teams Learn to Detect and Deter Explosives


More than four million passengers fly in and out of Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix annually, and with Spring Break vacations wrapping up and summer vacations gearing up, passenger screening canine teams are busier than ever. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) passenger screening canine teams are hard at work daily at Sky Harbor deterring and detecting explosives. Before being officially deployed into the field, these dogs and their handlers undergo several weeks of intensive training that includes learning new sights, sounds, smells and distractions associated with busy airports. Part of this training is done with controlled decoys, and in February these decoys included five of our MCAO crime analysts.

Analyst volunteers carried concealed (fake) training items through areas of the airport where the passenger screening teams were conducting search activities. The dogs are trained to detect certain scents and will follow a “suspicious airflow” when on duty, eventually alerting their handler if they detect a significant security risk.

Whether worn on their bodies or concealed in luggage, the participants were ultimately unsuccessful in concealing their hidden training items from the dogs, who participated in more than 50 different exercises with MCAO volunteers.

“It’s amazing watching the dogs work to keep passengers safe,” commented MCAO Criminal Intelligence Specialist Alyssa Ginter. Crime Intelligence Analyst Ximena Bustamente agrees and explained the reason she volunteered, “The work done by TSA agents and the K9 teams is important. It is because of them that I trust getting into a big metal box and going up 30,000 feet. Practice makes perfect and I was happy to help these amazing dogs get better at keeping us safe.”
TSA uses a variety of different dog breeds and the dogs and handlers are regularly certified. Because explosives are the greatest threat to airports, the dogs and their handlers have to stay current and maintain high standards of effectiveness. Criminal Intelligence Analyst Natalie Smith has a great deal of respect for the handlers and their dogs, “It was fascinating to watch everyone at work and participate in this important training.” Criminal Intelligence Analyst Danielle Brueback learned more about how the teams work together and in many instances she witnessed the adrenaline the teams experience as the dogs sniff out the material.

The exercises aren’t done in a controlled setting or on a movie set, all the training is done on-site at the airport with volunteers and the actual K9 teams, and much like the MCAO K9 Victim Support Program, cooperation and trust are important elements in the relationship. Although these four-legged cuddly team members may look like they want to play a game of fetch, they are actually working hard, offering reassurance and security to travelers.
If you are interested in learning more about the program or in volunteering to be a controlled decoy, contact Kevin Schutzenhofer at

TSA Dogs Patrolling our Airport

Get Ready for the Annual Mega Shred-A-Thon!

Mega Shred-A-Thon - Monday, April 15th - from 4:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. - Sponsored By: International Paper, Arizona's Family (channels 3 and 5) and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office

Tax season is the perfect time to get rid of unneeded documents containing your personal and financial information. To help our community prevent identity theft, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is partnering with International Paper and Arizona’s Family Channel 3 and CBS 5 to offer a free Shred-A-Thon. This event offers our community an opportunity to safely destroy unneeded documents including financial records, medical records, and tax returns older than three years.

FREE Shred-A-Thon

Monday, April 15
4:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

International Paper
301 South 30th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Each vehicle can have up to 15 banker’s boxes or 13-gallon kitchen trash bags of documents shredded for free.
As you plan your route to the event we ask that you follow the suggested guidelines on the event map including entering along 30th Street off Washington Street and exiting on 32nd Street off Madison Street (MAP). This is a popular event with County residents so please anticipate a wait time as volunteers work to collect documents from participant’s vehicles.
The County Attorney’s Office encourages residents to bring the following types of documents to the Shred-A-Thon:

  • Tax returns and documents older than three years
  • Statements from banks and financial institutions
  • Cancelled checks
  • Paycheck stubs
  • Unneeded medical records and billing statements
  • Any other unnecessary document containing personal information 

We cannot accept electronics, plastic or metal items. Please do not seal your boxes or bags as the contents must be removed for shredding.

Downloads (PDF):

Mega Shred Map
Mega Shred do's and don'ts

Armed Bank Robber Learns His Fate

A masked man jumped over the bank counter with his pistol and struck a female teller in the chest with his handgun. He then confronted two bank tellers, forcing them to empty out their cash drawers. He quickly placed the stolen currency in a garbage can and handed it off to his accomplice, who in turn stole a wallet from a bank customer. In less than five minutes, the robbery was over, but the chase was on.
It was September 6, 2016 when Rueben Rodriguez, Sergio Escobedo and Steven Del Rio robbed a Credit Union West in Avondale. Rodriguez, armed with a semi-automatic handgun, followed by Escobedo, who did not display a weapon, entered the establishment. Del Rio waited outside the bank in a 1998 GMC Yukon, their getaway vehicle.
Following the heist, Rodriguez and Escobedo ran to the getaway car and fled the scene. Witnesses quickly reported the license plate number of the getaway vehicle to the Avondale Police Department and officers quickly found the car. During the chase, Del Rio and Escobedo fired handguns at pursuing officers. Rodriguez held the steering wheel as Del Rio shot at police from the driver’s seat. Fortunately, no officers were struck and the pursuing Avondale officers did not return fire.
The chase continued into Phoenix where the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) air unit took over the pursuit assisted by PPD ground units. Del Rio drove down various side streets until he stopped the Yukon to allow Rodriguez and Escobedo to flee on foot in different directions. Officers quickly arrested Escobedo without incident while Rodriguez fled into the rear yard of a house and hid from police. A woman living in the residence saw Rodriguez who pointed a handgun at her demanding that she open her door. The woman refused and ran out the front of her house where she was met by two PPD officers.
Additional PPD officers surrounded the residence while Rodriguez told them he had a gun and refused to surrender. A six-foot wall surrounding the backyard limited visibility making it difficult for police to confirm whether 
Rodriguez was armed. After a 15-minute standoff, and Rodriguez’s eventual surrender, police were able to recover the stolen bank money in the backyard.
Although police were unable to locate the handgun that Rodriguez pointed at the female resident, they did recover both .45 and 9mm ammunition in the car, and .45 and 9mm spent cartridges along the chase route.
On March 4, 2019, Rueben Rodriguez was sentenced to 30 years in prison for two counts of aggravated assault on police officers.
Rodriguez had two prior felony convictions for aggravated assault. He also plead guilty to a second bank robbery that occurred at a Chase Bank in Phoenix on September 2, 2016, in which he was not armed but used a robbery demand note.

Rodriguez was convicted of the following charges and received the noted sentences with the Arizona Department of Corrections:

  1. Armed robbery, dangerous stipulated sentence 21 years.
  2. Aggravated assault, class 3, dangerous stipulated sentence 15 years.
  3. Aggravated assault, class 3, dangerous stipulated sentence 15 years.
  4. Aggravated assault on a police officer, stipulated sentence 15 years flat time.
  5. Aggravated assault on a police officer, stipulated sentenced 15 years flat time, and consecutive to the other aggravated assault on a police officer for a total sentence of 30 years.All of the other sentences were concurrent.

Rodriguez was also sentenced to an additional 6 years to be served concurrently for the Chase Bank robbery.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery noted, “Prison is the appropriate place for a career criminal like this one. Those considering changes to our use of prison and sentencing statues for these types of crimes need to carefully consider the reality of the offender we are dealing with.”

Bank Robbers Rueben Rodriguez, Sergio Escobedo and Steven Del Rio

Community Calendar

Upcoming Events Calendar

’Slope Fest

Saturday, April 6
8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Palma Park

1135 East Dunlap Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85020

MCAO Mega Shred-A-Thon

Monday, April 15
4:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

International Paper
301 South 30th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85034

MCAO Citizens Academy

Thursday, April 18
(Application Deadline 4/4/19)
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Maricopa County Administration Building
301 West Jefferson Street, 8th Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85003
More Info and Sign Up:

Pat’s Run

Saturday, April 27
6:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium
500 East Veterans Way
Tempe, AZ 85287

Cinco de Mayo - Phoenix Festival

Sunday, May 5
12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Downtown Phoenix

200 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85003

MCAO Citizens Academy

Thursday, May 16
(Application Deadline 5/2/19)
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Maricopa County Administration Building
301 West Jefferson Street, 8th Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85003
More Info and Sign Up:

Cases of Community Interest

Mugshot Joseph Palmisano

Attorney Joseph Palmisano Sentenced to 5 Years for Shooting Former Client

Joseph Palmisano was sentenced to five years in the Department of Corrections followed by five years of probation after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and kidnapping.

“This sentencing is a fitting resolution for the crimes of this defendant who fell far short of what we as lawyers are expected to uphold,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

» View Full Story «

Mugshot Dennis Pitman

Dennis Pitman Sentenced to 96 Years for Sexually Abusing Several Young Girls Across 15 Years

Dennis Pitman was sentenced to 96 years in the Department of Corrections after being found guilty by a jury of 17 counts of molestation of a child and five counts of sexual conduct with a minor.

“This sentencing ensures that this defendant will never have the opportunity to harm another child,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “His predatory actions against the most innocent and defenseless among us, and family members too, offend our most basic notions of proper conduct. He will appropriately die in prison.”

» View Full Story «

Mugshot Michael Crane

Michael Crane Sentenced to Natural Life Terms
for Three Murders

Michael Crane was sentenced to three consecutive natural life terms and several additional years in the Department of Corrections for multiple charges including three counts of first-degree murder.

“Michael Crane brutally took the lives of innocent victims without justification. While perfect justice would result in restoring lives taken, his sentences will nonetheless prevent him from threatening anyone in our community again,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

» View Full Story «

Mugshot Travis Ricci

Travis Ricci Receives a Sentence of Life in Prison For Racially Motivated Murder of Woman

Travis Ricci received the sentence of natural life in prison for the murder of 39-year-old Kelly Ann Jaeger in 2009. A jury found Ricci guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated assault, attempt to commit first-degree murder, drive-by shooting and assisting a criminal street gang in January 2019.

“This community will hold murderers accountable for killing based on someone’s race. We will not tolerate hate,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

» View Full Story «

Mugshot Joseph Eschief

Joseph Eschief Sentenced to Seven Years for Making Threats Against Police on Social Media

Joseph Eschief was sentenced to seven years in the Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to two counts of threatening and intimidating and one count of participating in a criminal street gang.

“This sentencing marks the first case in Arizona against a gang member who used social media to threaten law enforcement,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “The actions of this defendant are well outside of the protections offered by the 1st Amendment and he was held accountable for his criminal threats.”

» View Full Story «

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