Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Seal
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
Justice for All
January 2018
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery
With the beginning of a new year, we turn our focus to the future and we have a lot to look forward to.
At MCAO, we’ve been working on significant initiatives to address public safety and criminal justice concerns in our community and to improve our partnerships and communication.
Our recently expanded Community Based Prosecution Bureaus have begun meeting with residents and key community leaders representing a wide range of groups in each of our eight community based prosecution areas.  The first formal roll-out meeting was held on December 4 with our Mesa bureau at the Mesa Police Department.  It was a great opportunity to explain the concept, invite participation, and demonstrate our commitment to working with our law enforcement and community partners for a better, safer environment.
We’re also working on ways to improve and increase communication with each of these defined areas. You’ve probably seen us on Nextdoor — the application that allows residents to share information within their neighborhoods — and you might be reading this newsletter through that app right now. This has proven to be an invaluable tool that helps us get information right to you. Coming soon, we’ll be able to target information that is specific to each of these areas and provide you with updates on what is happening, not only within our county, but what is happening in your neighborhood with regard to crime and safety.
Much of this work couldn’t go forward without the dedicated work of our crime analysts, who identify trends and repeat offenders. The work that they do is getting recognized too. One of our own was recently named Arizona Crime Analyst of the Year. Read more about her work in this issue.
Through greater communication and collaboration, as a community we can make a significant impact on crime and safety in Maricopa County.
Bill Montgomery Signature

Mesa Community Based Prosecution Bureau Holds Its First Meeting with Community Leaders

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery speaking at the CBP Meeting in Mesa
In October 2017, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office expanded its Community Based Prosecution model from four geographically organized bureaus to eight. By creating more bureaus covering a smaller area, a more focused partnership is possible between prosecutors, law enforcement, and business and neighborhood leaders.  Concerns seen in Central Phoenix could be quite different than those in Mesa and residents in the East Valley may face different challenges than those in the West Valley. By focusing the Office’s bureaus geographically, we are able to more effectively engage the community’s needs. However, to make this expansion a success, the Office needs to maintain and enhance the partnerships our prosecutors already have with law enforcement and create new partnerships with community leaders and neighborhood residents. The first step is to build awareness in the communities about the new bureaus and explain how cooperation and partnerships can impact public safety in their neighborhoods.
Mesa is the only city in Maricopa County that falls into its own geographic bureau. As the second largest city in the county
, it also generates the second largest caseload for the office.

On December 4, in a small community meeting room at the Mesa Police Department, County Attorney Bill Montgomery introduced local community leaders to the new bureau that covers the City of Mesa and to Serena Pokrass who will serve as the new
Bureau Chief for the Mesa Community Based Prosecution Bureau.
Learning that a bureau was specifically assigned to their community was well-received
by the various community leaders who gathered for the presentation. Many spoke about the community engagement that they have spent decades building in their city. They were glad to welcome another resource to serve the residents and increase public safety. They were most curious about how the community can connect with the new bureau and help it be successful in Mesa.
Bureau Chief Pokrass encouraged them to do much as they have been, by remembering “if you see something, say something.”  She added that when a crime happens the police department still needs to be their first call. Beyond that, the next important step is being a good witness or victim willing to assist in the investigation and prosecution. Pokrass promised to work with the community and help communicate to victims when they are needed in court and when the community has the opportunity to explain to the court why a crime in their neighborhood affected them. Pokrass gave examples of how the community working with both the police and prosecutors can make a difference. She shared an example of a defendant who posed a threat to a community and was sentenced to prison instead of probation because the community helped the judge see the impact of the defendant’s criminal behavior.
Later this month the Office will release a video that will help community members better understand the Mesa bureau and ways it can help engage to increase the public’s safety where they live, work and play.

MCAO Working to Address Appropriate Terms of Probation for Sex Traffickers

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and MCAO prosecutors have begun a conversation regarding needed changes to conditions of release and terms of probation for individuals convicted of sex trafficking. A renewed look at these terms and conditions is needed to account for differences in offender profiles from offenders committing other types of sex offenses. Currently, those who are released from prison after serving a sentence for sex trafficking are placed under similar restrictions and terms of community supervision as those facing charges of or sentenced to probation for sex crimes.
While these conditions address many public safety concerns and take into account the circumstances of offenders, they do not necessarily address the potential treatment and/or program needs and public safety concerns of someone convicted of sex trafficking. A recently formed working group is looking into the possibility of creating new standard probation terms that could be applied to sex traffickers upon release from prison.
“Right now there are terms of probation for some specific categories of crime such as sex offenders, white collar criminals, and domestic violence. However, sex traffickers do not quite fit into just one of these categories. The nature of sex trafficking can result in an offender who may need a mix of terms that includes some of those required of sex offenders, yet also those addressing domestic violence.
We need a more flexible approach to create a set of terms for a sex trafficking offender that will protect the community, preclude future victims, and provide the probationer with the appropriate structure to keep them from reoffending,” said Assistant Bureau Chief of MCAO’s Sex Crimes East Unit Sara Micflikier.
Micflikier raised the need for a review and helped bring together a workgroup that now includes representatives from Adult Probation, law enforcement and members of the mental health field. While the group is in its early stages, there is a lot of support for creating a new set of supervision terms for sex traffickers.
“Recent changes to our statutes now allow for the courts to give these types of offenders lifetime probation. We want to make sure that the terms of the probation they receive after they are released from prison appropriately protect the community from further harm while also allowing these individuals to receive the supervision and resources they need to create a new law abiding life,” said Micflikier.
Once the work group has a finalized proposal on the new terms for supervision, they will submit it to the courts and probation to see if this new set of terms can be implemented.

Erin Wickersham Recognized as
2017 Arizona Crime Analyst of the Year

Each year the Arizona Association of Crime Analysts (AACA) recognizes a member who has gone above and beyond in the field of crime analysis and this year that member is MCAO’s Erin Wickersham.  As a Crime Statistical Analyst in the MCAO Crime Strategies Section, Erin’s expertise has been instrumental in developing and implementing Intelligence Focused Prosecution (IFP) and the Crime Strategies Section within the office.  Crime Analysis units at police agencies are common, but utilizing the same type of information gathering and dissemination at a prosecutor’s office is rare.  Erin has spearheaded the crime strategies work at our Office and facilitated the development of the strategic and tactical functions of IFP that will help facilitate seamless information sharing and crime data analysis.
The AACA, one of the largest statewide arms of the International Association of Crime Analysts, has more than 100 sworn and non-sworn members across Arizona who are research specialists, strategic planners and strategic and tactical crime analysts – all of whom work in law enforcement agencies, police departments and city, state and county attorney offices.  Nominations are reviewed by the AACA Board and one member is selected who truly demonstrates what it is to be a crime analysis professional.  Brittany Willis, Police Analyst at the Scottsdale Police Department and current AACA President, recognized Erin’s accomplishments at the December AACA meeting and commended her involvement with the association, “Erin’s training and presentations to AACA members and member agencies are not only helping promote the crime analysis field, but are also enhancing the work being done by the prosecutors at her agency.”  Mary Bertuccelli, Crime Analysis Unit Supervisor at Scottsdale Police Department and one of Erin’s nominators agrees, “Erin has really taken initiative as a crime analyst for MCAO and her work is bringing our role to the forefront by recognizing that we as analysts are well aware of who the crime drivers are in our communities.”   
The AACA reports that talent within the association has grown and the demand for skilled, knowledgeable crime analysts in all parts of criminal justice has increased. They also find that decision-makers are relying on crime analysis more and more.  County Attorney Bill Montgomery is gratified by the work being accomplished by the MCAO’s Crime Strategies Section and of this distinct recognition, “As the public demands more information about crimes and criminals, it is analysts like Erin who have the expertise and training to be able to quickly identify, summarize and disseminate important information to prosecutors and the community.  Erin’s award for her outstanding crime analysis work is well-deserved.”

Congratulations Erin!

Erin Wickersham Recognized as 2017 Arizona Crime Analyst of the Year

MCAO Raises Funds for Arizona Helping Hands

MCAO Raises Funds for Arizona Helping Hands

MCAO employees participated in a fundraising campaign for Arizona Helping Hands this Fall by purchasing casual day passes. The passes allowed staff to dress down one day per week with all proceeds benefitting this truly worthy cause. The campaign ran from September through November. Employees raised $3,865.
Arizona Helping Hands supports these foster families providing them with basic essentials such as a new bed and/or crib and bedding, clothes, toiletries, holiday and birthday toys, school supplies, and emergency assistance.
To learn more about Arizona Helping Hands, and to donate, visit:

Working Together to Improve the
Safety of Arizona’s Children

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery stood next to Arizona Department of Child Safety Director Greg McKay in front of local media for a press conference that was only a hopeful dream several years ago.  Coming together almost exactly six years after final recommendations from the Child Safety Taskforce were sent to the Governor’s Office and just a month since the final sentencing in the horrific 2011 child murder case of Ame Deal, these two leaders announced that things are no longer the same.
Montgomery addressed the conference first and explained why he wanted to talk to the media and the community. “A couple points of observation, first let’s not forget Ame Deal and the role that she played in helping to encourage significant changes in our child welfare system. Second, we have had significant changes to the child welfare system with real measurable outcomes. We want those who are committed to children in Arizona to also see there is a reason to hope because there has been improvement.”
He went on to say that six years ago he would have been stonewalled in his efforts as County Attorney to get information regarding prior child welfare agency contacts with a family. Now, he said the relationship is 180 degrees different.
“The bunker culture that once existed is gone, we do not play hide the ball. We have a very transparent and open culture,” said McKay as he went on to share data that showcased the dramatic change in his agency over the past few years.
He explained that when the Child Safety Taskforce was first formed, it was normal for someone calling the child abuse hotline to wait for an hour for someone to answer. Now, the average wait is less than 28 seconds. Originally, a third of callers would hang up before reporting abuse. Now, just 2% of callers hang up before the call can be answered and that includes wrong number calls. Joint investigations into abuse involving police and DCS were only occurring in 54% of the cases when McKay took over while that now occurs 95% of the time, reflecting the new reality that law enforcement and child welfare investigators are working together better and more often. Caseloads for DCS investigators were about 150 cases per investigator and now the average case load is about 13-15 case per investigator.
However, Montgomery was quick to caution that the press conference was not a “victory lap,” citing how the Office had just indicted a father and step-mother for the murder of their seven year old daughter after what could have been months or possibly years of abuse.
“We will continue this work and I’m asking stakeholders to keep holding DCS accountable, to hold Director McKay accountable, to hold me accountable to follow through on our prior commitment. I am here to say that I am committed to continuing to work to improve our child welfare system. For however far we may have come in the last six years, however far we might be today, there is still more that has to be done. I have to acknowledge too, that we will continue to struggle with the evil side of humanity that sees small human beings as objects they can take out rage and frustration on, or simply failing to do the most basic of things that a parent should do for their child.”
McKay added “It has been my promise to not allow children to die in vain. My commitment to their memory is to be transparent and continuously improve systems and to never forget about them or their intense suffering.”
You can view the entire press conference on the MCAO YouTube channel at:

Speak Up… Save a Life

How seriously would you take a teenager’s sullen social media post that claims their “life is over?” How about one where they say something happened and now they just “want to die?” What if next time they post a picture of the pills they plan to take or the weapon they plan to use? It’s hard to tell what moment is the right one, when should someone say something or intervene? Now imagine you’re trying to figure out these answers as a teenager.
For many us well past our high school years, the school bully was only a threat until you were able to run home and close your front door. We knew once we were home we were safe at least for a few precious hours until next school day. However, for today’s youth, bullies are on social media every hour of the day.  
Gina Godbehere has seen devastating scenarios involving teen suicides and murder in her time as
Northwest Valley Bureau Chief in the Community Based Prosecution Division of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. She has spent more than 20 years serving as a prosecutor and after learning recently that suicide rates for children and teens in Arizona are on the rise, she felt compelled to do something. She wanted to create some way to help teens not only identify when someone is in a crisis, but empower them to then know what to do with that information.

“I would like nothing more than to spark a movement for kids to reconnect to each other. In too many tragedies involving our kids, there were warning signs on social media, but no action.” said Godbehere. “My greatest hope is that we can inspire youth to care enough to do something and know what to do to help,” she added.

During a project through Leadership West Class 22, Godbehere connected with Pendergast Elementary School District Superintendent Dr. Lily Matos DeBlieux and Strategic Business expert, Jennifer Rogers with GCON Inc.  The three women felt that real change for this issue could be achieved for students here locally, but to have a true impact it needed to involve every sector from schools to law enforcement and local leaders.

Godbehere is working to make “Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life” the trademark of a youth conference she and her partners have planned. “I firmly believe this conference is desperately needed in our schools right now and presents an opportunity to help bridge the gap between our local community, the government, and law enforcement in a positive way,” said Godbehere.

The student-led youth conference is planned for January 16, 2018 at Grand Canyon University Arena and will be the largest one of its kind in state, with more than 3,000 students expected to attend from schools around the Valley. Sponsored by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, the conference will not only bring students together, but also police chiefs, government officials, parents and teachers providing them tools to take back to their schools with the goal to inspire each student to “Speak Up, Stand Up and Save A Life.”

Over the Edge

MCAO Detective Scott Miller and Legal Support Specialist Lisa Fettis went Over the Edge.

MCAO Detective Scott Miller and Legal Support Specialist Lisa Fettis went “Over the Edge,” and rappelled 27 stories down Cityscape to raise money for the Special Olympics.

MCAO Veterans Day Parade Entry Wins 1st Place 

MCAO’s Veterans Day float was honored with a 1st place win
MCAO’s Veterans Day float was honored with a 1st place win in the County Government category.  This year’s theme was "Honoring our Cold War Veterans, Silent Sacrifice.”

Community Calendar

Upcoming Events Calendar

Shred-A-Thon and Prescription Take-Back Event

Saturday, January  13
7:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Surprise Police Department

14250 West Statler Plaza
Surprise, AZ 85374

Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life

Tuesday, January  16
7:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Grand Canyon University

3300 West Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85017

Cases of Community Interest

Philip Mitchell Brailsford mugshot

Former Mesa Police Officer Philip Mitchell Brailsford Found Not Guilty in Murder Trial

Philip Mitchell Brailsford was found not guilty of second degree murder, nor a lesser charge, in relation to the fatal shooting of a suspect during a January 2016 incident at a Mesa hotel.

“This case did not and does not represent the vast number of honorable men and women who wear the uniform of law enforcement in Maricopa County. Should similar facts as readily evident as portrayed in the video ever present themselves again, we will do our job and place the matter before a jury.” said Maricopa County Bill Montgomery.

» View Full Story «

James Koryor mugshot

James Koryor Found Guilty of Killing Son After Leaving Him Inside a Hot Car

James Koryor was found guilty of negligent homicide and child abuse in connection to the death of his 2-year-old son.

“This case involves the senseless death of a young innocent victim, whose life was cut short by the careless and self-centered actions of his father,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
» View Full Story «

Juan Zermeno mugshot

Juan Zermeno Sentenced to Natural Life for Brutal Murder of Employer

Juan Zermeno was sentenced to natural life for first degree murder, with an additional 14 years in the Department of Corrections for burglary and trafficking stolen property.

“Nothing can change the suffering the victim and his family had to endure from the events of that night, but today’s sentencing demonstrates our community’s resolve to hold the defendant accountable for his senseless and unjustifiable acts,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
» View Full Story «

Michael Paladino mugshot

Man Indicted for String of Sexual Assaults, 2005 Sex Assault Kit Helps Identify Suspect

A Maricopa County Grand Jury has delivered an indictment charging Michael Paladino with six counts of sexual assault related to cases from 2003 through 2006.

“We now have the necessary investigative findings to be able to move forward with criminal charges and hold this defendant accountable for his actions,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “This is the seventh indictment from our Office where testing has identified a suspect in an unsolved sex assault case.”
» View Full Story «

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