Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Seal
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
Justice for All
February 2018
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery
2018 has started off as an exciting year for MCAO. We’ve already got some accomplishments under our collective belt and are gearing up for our great community programs.

This past month I attended two conferences, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys’ Major County Prosecutors Council, held in Baton Rouge, LA, and the National District Attorney’s Association (NDAA) Capital Conference in Washington, D.C.
As I talked with fellow District Attorneys, one thing was clear. Our Office is widely recognized as an innovative leader in employing technology that enhances criminal justice and with our Community Based Prosecution approach that allows us to more effectively build relationships and work together with our local law enforcement partners and key community groups.
In fact, Arizona’s criminal justice system in many ways is worthy of study by the rest of the nation. At the Major County Prosecutors Council conference, I had the opportunity to speak with Governor Edwards of Louisiana who talked about the efforts of his state to reform the criminal justice system by looking at best practices from other states. Some of the initiatives his state adopted are among those we have here in Arizona.
For example, Arizona raised the $500 felony theft threshold to $1,000 in 2006 and we raised the felony criminal damage threshold to $1,000 in 2009. We’ve also required drug treatment and prohibited incarceration for the first two drug possession/use offenses since 1996. Arizona has also already adopted a graduated intervention policy for those who violate conditions of release from prison. The Arizona way of administering a criminal justice system is slowly becoming the American way.
I’d also like to point out that the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report has been released with data on crime rates for the first half of 2017. Preliminary reports suggest that, overall, the violent crime rate remained roughly flat for Maricopa County and property crime was down. This is good news but we’ll continue to work with all of our law enforcement and community partners to protect and strengthen our community.
Bill Montgomery Signature

Stand Up to Put Downs:
MCAO Launches Anti-bullying Awareness Initiative for Parents and Caregivers

A lot of us grew up in a time when bullying, already common in schools and on playgrounds, was thought to be “kids being kids.” Victims were expected to deal with it and “toughen up.” A lot of us also grew up without the presence of social media, a medium that keeps kids connected to each other at all times of the day. As adults, our perspective and knowledge of bullying may not be in line with today’s reality.
To that end, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has launched a program geared specifically toward parents and caregivers to give them insight into what kids face today that may be different from their own experience and what the real world consequences of bullying can be… for their kids and themselves.
This innovative program provides parents a unique perspective on the consequences of bullying from professionals working within the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
The MCAO “Stand Up to Put Downs” program is divided into three sections that provide an overall picture of the impact and consequences of bullying and cyberbullying and its potential impact on children and families. Presenters are from MCAO’s Community Affairs Team, Investigations Division—representing law enforcement, and prosecutors from the Juvenile Division.
Participants will get an overview of the signs that their child is being bullied and tips on what to do. MCAO investigators will talk about what laws are in place related to bullying and the legal consequences of certain actions, what should be reported and what evidence to keep. Prosecutors will talk about how the juvenile justice system operates, what happens when a juvenile is arrested, court procedures and victim rights, as well as the penalties and consequences related to cyberbullying and sexting.
To request a presentation to your parent group, contact MCAO Community Affairs at (602) 506-3411.
For more information and resources about bullying, visit

Stand Up, Speak Up, Save a Life Conference 

More than 3,000 students from school across the Valley filled the Grand Canyon University Arena as the youth conference kicked off with motivational speakers
More than 3,000 students from schools across the Valley filled the Grand Canyon University Arena as the Stand Up, Speak Up, Save a Life youth conference kicked off with motivational speakers.
During student breakout sessions the students worked to define what messages they had previously heard or things they had seen that kept them from intervening when they saw another student is struggling. Then the students came up with ideas of how to change that mindset with their new skills to speak up and stand up.
During student breakout sessions, the students worked to define what messages they had previously heard or things they had seen that kept them from intervening when they saw another student struggling. Then the students came up with ideas of how to change that mindset with their new skills to speak up and stand up.
All the adult attendees of the conference gathered on the lawn to hear from several dynamic speakers about the difficult issues teens are facing and how they can become the trusted adults students need.
All the adult attendees of the conference gathered on the lawn to hear from several dynamic speakers about the difficult issues teens are facing and how they can become the trusted adults students need.
After the afternoon sessions each students wrote out what their “next step” would be on colorful footprints. Volunteers then hung each print along the walkway so students could see them as encouragement as they left the conference.
After the afternoon sessions each student wrote out what their “next step” would be on colorful footprints. Volunteers then hung each print along the walkway so students could see them as encouragement as they left the conference.

MCAO to Host first-ever Cold Case Conference for
Law Enforcement Partners

Criminals do not respect city borders and with MCAO’s recent experience working to eliminate the sex assault kit backlog, we’ve learned that solving cold cases in one city often results in solving crimes in surrounding cities. DNA and other forensic tools continue to evolve, enabling law enforcement to solve decades old crimes and bring justice to victims.
Our Office is committed to providing assistance to our law enforcement partners in Maricopa County to address unsolved homicides and other crimes that are in a "cold case" status.
To further this commitment, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and the Arizona Homicide Investigators Association (AHIA) will be hosting a first-ever Cold Case Conference on February 5 and 6. The conference will give an instructive look at how the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Cold Case detectives and prosecutors work with law enforcement to ensure successful prosecution.
This two-day seminar will bring in local and national experts with presentations designed for detectives, prosecutors, and lab analysts who work forensic cases. The seminar will provide these practitioners with a comprehensive overview of cold case homicide investigations including relevant case studies, interviewing and crime scene reconstruction methodologies and cutting-edge DNA technology.
MCAO is one of the only prosecutor's offices in the nation with an in-house cold case unit staffed with both prosecutors and detectives. These dedicated professionals are committed to working collaboratively with local law enforcement agencies to assist in their Cold Case investigations and ensure successful prosecution.

MCAO Welcomes Commander Bruce Walls

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery welcomed long-time law enforcement professional Bruce Walls to the MCAO Investigations Division as the new Commander overseeing the day-to-day work of our Investigations Division. Commander Walls has more than 35 years experience, both as an officer and Commander with the Peoria Police Department and the United States Air Force. He joined the MCAO in September and brings with him not only decades of law enforcement expertise but his ability to see the big picture, ideas for implementing new programs and the best way to help guide our detectives and the Office towards meeting our organizational goals. Commander Walls has been busy the past 90 days, cultivating law enforcement agency relationships to help make the MCAO’s Intelligence-Focused Prosecution program (IFP) successful and to implement tools and investigative techniques to help identify priority offenders. Commander Walls knows IFP helps enhance public safety in addition to positively impacting the crime rate. “I’m so happy to be here at MCAO and I love walking around and seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces,” said Commander Walls. “It makes me want to be here every day. This is a great culture and I am proud to be part of it and am excited to be part of IFP and the changes it is making in our community.”
Commander Walls notes some differences working for a prosecutor’s office and a traditional law enforcement agency; but one thing remains the same and that is delivering excellent service to customers, both prosecutors and detectives. Last month he hosted an “MCAO Book Club” for the leaders in the Investigations Division reiterating many of his favorite themes from the book Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek … everyone should go to work feeling trusted and valued and inspired. Good organizations foster trust and cooperation and Commander Walls has seen this first-hand since arriving at the MCAO. “The MCAO has great inspirational leaders and as I continue working on everything from deploying detectives to helping move to a paperless office, I continue to be impressed by the teamwork here at the Office.”

Commander Walls has been married for 17 years and has grown children and three grandchildren. When he’s not inspiring the next influencer or trailblazer, he has been known to put his thoughts on paper and write original poetry and sonnets.

Welcome aboard Bruce!

Commander Bruce Walls

Protect Yourself from Home Repair Scams

At this time of year, many of us may be thinking about home improvement and spring cleaning projects. Criminals are more than happy to take advantage of these good intentions by scamming us out of money for services or repair work which will never be done or done poorly.
Home service or repair scams typically occur in a face-to-face interaction with the criminal approaching the victim at home. A door-to-door scam artist might offer a free home inspection and then share with you that there is an emergency repair and you need the work done immediately. Another common trick is telling you that he just finished up a job for a neighbor and he might as well help you while he is in the area.
A resident of Sun City recently shared with our Office that the day after moving into her new home, a well-dressed young man came to her door and told her he was there to update her alarm system. There was an existing system in the house from the prior owner, so the resident assumed he was with the same company. What she discovered later that day was that he was with an out-of-state alarm company, had no affiliation with her current alarm and started installing wiring and equipment she didn’t want or need. She had given him her credit card number and once discovering the deception, had to cancel the credit card and notify her bank of the scam.
Criminals often target seniors because they are most likely home and isolated during the day and they are often more receptive to door-to-door solicitations. Seniors are perceived to have more wealth and access to cash and more vulnerable to aggressive and persistent con artists. In some cases, criminals will cruise residential neighborhoods, looking for an elderly person outside their home. They will approach the victim, engage in friendly conversation and offer to do repair work. The initial price might be low and sound like a good deal, but after the work is completed, the bill is much higher.
Tips for Prevention:

  • Get everything in writing—including bids—and tell the solicitor you will get back to them after checking their business license status.
  • Ask for references and a business card that has contact information.
  • Verify the company is legitimate and the person is an employee.
  • Be prepared to handle high pressure sales tactics.
  • Be wary of unsolicited knocks on the door offering to do a job around the house.
  • Prior to hiring a company, check the Registrar of Contractors website for information about the company and to confirm they are licensed.
  • If you need maintenance or repair work, it is best to seek out a reputable service on your own and check reviews on referral websites.

Keli Luther Victims’ Rights Externship

Long-time Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) prosecutor Keli Luther’s award-winning work focuses on crime victims’ rights; she has a long history inside and outside MCAO where she has engaged in victim advocacy, training on victim’s rights and furthering the cause of victim’s rights across the country. Keli is passionate about the need to advocate for and protect the rights of victims of crime.

To foster greater awareness and interest in crime victim rights advocacy while advancing the cause, MCAO is pleased to announce that along with Keli, Arizona Voice for Crime Victims and ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law, the “Keli Luther Victims’ Rights Externship” has been established. The first ASU student selected for this prestigious externship is Cynthia Thomas. Currently assigned to the MCAO Appeals Bureau, Cynthia’s work is restitution-based as she assists prosecutors with research, motion work and appellate practice related to financial losses victims have suffered as a result of a crime.
“I’ve learned a lot, I am learning something new every day,” reports Cynthia. “It is inspiring to be part of the work Arizona and Maricopa County are doing on behalf of victims. It is humbling to be part of this movement.”

Set to graduate from ASU Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law in May, Cynthia receives five credit hours as an extern and is in the Office working four days a week. She is a long-time Arizonan who graduated from Chandler High School and knew by the time she entered junior high she wanted to be a prosecutor. Criminal justice runs in the family as she comes from a long line of law enforcement officers who have clearly imparted on Cynthia a responsibility and desire to serve the citizens of Maricopa County.

Before being awarded the externship, Cynthia assisted in the MCAO Family Violence and Preliminary Hearings bureaus and has performed legal research on cases ranging from drug possession to shaken baby syndrome.

When Cynthia isn’t preparing motions on behalf of victims, you might catch her rehearsing with her punk garage band, where she plays guitar with friends and band mates she has known since she was 12 years old.
“Keli Luther is one of the most inspiring human beings I have ever met,” said Diane Meloche, Appeals Bureau Chief and Cynthia’s supervisor. “We truly owe Keli a debt of gratitude for all her work on behalf of victims and it is rewarding to see the same devotion and excitement about this work from Cynthia.”

Congratulations and welcome Cynthia!

Cynthia Thomas, the first ASU student selected for the Keli Luther Victims’ Rights Externship

Thanks to YOU for Taking a Safe Ride Home

The numbers are in and the success of MCAO’s Save Lives Don’t DUI Campaign for the 2017 holiday season was off the chart. A record 18,523 rides were taken using discount codes offered for the campaign. This success can be attributed to a greater awareness by the public of the dangers and consequences of drunk driving and the ease and availability of getting a sober ride from companies such as our ridesharing partner this year, Lyft.
The campaign ran from December 1st through January 2nd ensuring that those enjoying holiday festivities all the way through the New Year would have the ability to get a safe ride home at a discount.
“With the discount code offered through the Save Lives, Don’t DUI campaign, riders often paid only a $5 to $10 charge, compared to the $5,000 to $10,000 a DUI offense will cost,” said County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Through the program, we provide an incentive to convince those thinking of driving when they are impaired to the slightest degree, to instead get a safe ride home.”
Statewide, 3,802 DUI arrests were made from Thanksgiving weekend through New Year’s Eve with an average blood alcohol content of almost twice the 0.08 legal limit.
Stay tuned for details of our next Save Lives Don’t DUI campaign coming your way for St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo!

Community Calendar

Upcoming Events Calendar

Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life Resource Night

Wednesday, February 7
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Pinnacle High School

3535 East Mayo Boulevard
Phoenix, AZ 85050

Shred-A-Thon and Prescription Take Back Event

Saturday, February 10
7:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Chandler Fashion Center Target

3425 West Frye Road
Chandler, AZ 85226

Laveen Community Council BBQ

Saturday, February 10
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Cesar Chavez Park

7858 South 35th Avenue
Laveen Village, AZ 85339

Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life Resource Night

Tuesday, February 13
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Desert Ridge Junior High

10211 East Madero Avenue
Mesa, AZ 85209

Cases of Community Interest

Mugshot Decarlos Jones

Decarlos Jones Sentenced to 90 Days for Beheading of Pet Dog

Decarlos Jones was sentenced to a 90-day jail sentence followed by three years of supervised probation with domestic violence and animal cruelty terms for the torture and decapitation of his and his girlfriend’s dog. Jones pled guilty to a class 6 designated felony animal cruelty charge on November 30, 2017.

“This conviction represents the most serious felony designation that can be imposed, yet it falls far short of acknowledging the intentional conduct committed by the defendant,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “I look forward to changes in our criminal laws that will allow us to meet community expectations in punishing this vicious type of behavior.”

» View Full Story «

Mugshot Jose Figueroa

Jose Figueroa Sentenced to 25 Years for Murdering His Ex-Girlfriend

Jose Ubaldo Rubio Figueroa was sentenced to 25 years in the Department of Corrections for second degree murder for the death of 48-year-old Maria Rivera.

“While nothing can change the grief felt by the victim’s family, this sentencing ensures the defendant will remain in prison well into his 70’s,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
» View Full Story «

Mugshot Judith Walthers

Judith Walthers Sentenced to Life in Prison for Violent Murder of a Man for His Truck

Judith Walthers was sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder, in addition to four years for theft of means of transportation and two years for second degree escape all connected to the death of 54-year-old Kevin Worzalla.

“This sentencing holds this defendant accountable for her shocking lack of regard for human life and the threat she has proven to be to the community,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
» View Full Story «

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