Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Seal
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
Justice for All
April 2018
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery
Last month, the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council (APAAC) released the 2017 Prisoners in Arizona Report.
The report calculates that 95% of those currently incarcerated are violent and/or repeat offenders. Only 5% are non-violent offenders; but keep in mind, non-violent offenders includes drug trafficking, sex offenses and child pornography, to name a few. Further, it illustrates which offender categories pose the greatest risk to society, but also which groups might better respond to enhanced supervision or focused rehabilitative services.
The report serves to dispel myths often repeated in thinly disguised and weakly supported editorials about prosecution and sentencing practices, such as "mass incarceration." With this report, prosecutors and lawmakers have an important tool giving them the ability to take a measured approach to policymaking using objective data. We believe that we can better reduce crime by ensuring that the right people are in prison and focus on reducing recidivism.
You can read the report at: and watch the press conference of its announcement at:
Looking forward to April, our Office will join with State and local officials, law enforcement and victims’ advocates for an event to commemorate Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which is April 8-14. This event honors and remembers victims of crime and recognizes agencies and individuals who assist them in their journey.
We will also hold an internal awards ceremony to recognize those who have made a difference in the community and in the Office through their extraordinary service to crime victims.
With tax day coming up this month, we also want to invite you to get rid of your unwanted documents with sensitive personal and financial information by attending our annual Mega Shred-A-Thon. It will be held all day on April 16 at the International Paper facility in downtown Phoenix. See additional details later in this newsletter. Last year, approximately 2600 vehicles came to the event each averaging about seven bankers boxes of documents. Overall, County residents brought 210 tons of paper to be destroyed.
Bill Montgomery Signature

Expand the Circle- Reach All Victims

National Crime Victims' Rights Week 2018 logo

During the first week of April, many across the nation will be observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The commemoration runs from April 8 -14 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 goes beyond just one week. In fact, it is a cornerstone of our commitment to the community.
While National “Crime Victims Week” was originally proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to recognize the importance of giving crime victims a voice in the criminal justice, it was not until 1984 that Congress passed the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) which secured legal rights, protections and services for victims of crime.
Arizona became one of the first states to introduce a constitutional amendment guaranteeing specific rights for crime victims in 1988. Further, in 1990, Arizona voters overwhelmingly passed an initiative creating the Arizona Victims’ Bill of Rights. Then, 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 provides a range of support services, including financial assistance, to help crime victims and their families cope with the multiple impacts of crime.
During Crime Victims’ Rights Week, MCAO will participate in two events meant to honor those who have been victims of crime and those who serve them. The first event is a luncheon and awards presentation on April 9th 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 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 Interim Director Jeff Hood.
The luncheon will feature keynote speaker Maria del Mar Verdin who has been advocating for equal rights for crime victims—through the passage of Marsy’s Law—in every state across the country. Maria currently serves as Mesa Municipal Court Judge Pro Tem overseeing a daily case load of up to 100 matters. Serving as an attorney and judge for almost 30 years, Maria has seen the struggles victims often face as they move through an unfamiliar criminal justice system.

On April 10th, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office will also hold an internal Victims’ Rights Week Awards ceremony to recognize those within our Office and in the community who have excelled in providing services to victims of crime, helping to restore hope in their lives. Awards are given in the following areas: Leadership, Collaboration, Innovation, Resilience and Summit.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week 2018 Dates

Prosecuting Strangulation Cases

As prosecutors, our Office has seen repeated evidence that strangulation constitutes a dangerous and potentially life threatening form of domestic violence. Unfortunately, strangulation cases are very challenging to successfully prosecute, but practices we developed in Maricopa County improved our ability to do so.
Law enforcement professionals and prosecutors in Maricopa County view strangulation cases as one of the most dangerous domestic violence cases. In 2010, Arizona lawmakers recognized the danger of domestic violence strangulation by designating it as a separate felony.
Shortly after strangulation became a felony, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office internally reviewed over 50 domestic abuse strangulation cases. We found that over 85% of the victims were strangled inside their homes, far from help or the public eye. Manual strangulation (i.e. bare hand) was the most common form of strangulation in these cases. We learned that proving strangulation was difficult because the signs and symptoms associated with it are usually invisible or appear minor to the untrained eye.
Prior research in the Journal of Emergency Medicine studied 300 strangulation cases submitted to the San Diego City Attorney’s Office for prosecution (Gael G. Strack, George E. McClane, & Dean Hawley, Violence: Recognition, Management, and Prevention, The Journal of Emergency Medicine, Vol. 21, No. 3, 303-309 (2001). The study found that only 15% of the 300 cases had photographs of sufficient quality to use in court as evidence. The study underscored that police and prosecutors focused on visible injuries to prove strangulation and not on other valid, but not visible signs and symptoms.
As a result of the internal review, results, and research, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office developed a comprehensive and innovative protocol that addressed the dual needs to provide proper medical treatment to victims while also documenting evidence of the strangulation.
Police officers were trained both about the signs and symptoms of strangulation and also the medical risk strangulation poses to victims. After initially responding to a strangulation call, the officers were trained to take victims to receive medical treatment from forensic nurses.
The forensic nurses provided needed medical care to the victims. A comprehensive medical exam would also identify, document, and treat all injuries, visible and hidden. Strangulation in simplest of terms impedes the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, and non-visible signs associated with it include loss of consciousness (even briefly), involuntary urination, pain or difficulty in swallowing, headache, dizziness, loss of memory, change in voice, throat pain, and ringing in one’s ears. Prior to this important training, these non-visible symptoms went undetected. Nobody connected the dots.
Forensic nurses used special cameras to diagnose and document all visible injuries, and to advise victims to seek further medical care if the medical conditions worsen.
The police continue their investigation while the victim receives medical care. Upon completion of the investigation, the police submit their investigation to my Office, which includes both the police report and the medical exam from the forensic nurse, for prosecutors to review before making the decision to file felony strangulation charges or not.
My Office implemented this comprehensive medically informed protocol over five years ago. While it has dramatically improved our success with strangulation cases, proving them in court remains difficult. Domestic abuse victims are particularly susceptible to recant prior statements at trial. Specially trained prosecutors familiar with the signs and symptoms of strangulation, and who are well versed in the rules of evidence are critical to the success of each case. It requires significant time and resources to train prosecutors for these cases.
Prior to implementing this protocol, charges were filed in fewer than 20% of strangulation cases submitted for prosecution in Maricopa County. After this protocol was implemented, the filing rate has never dropped below 60%, and many of the cases are resolved with guilty pleas. Additionally, reported incidents of strangulation have increased dramatically under this protocol. In 2012, there were 538 reported strangulation incidents where the victim received medical care from a forensic nurse. Last year nearly 900 victims sought medical care from a forensic nurse after being strangled.

Parents of Murdered Children’s (POMC)
23rd Annual Fundraising Dinner

POMC Fundraiser Image
On February 23, Victim Services staff attended the POMC 23rd Annual Fundraising Dinner. POMC  provides services and programs to families free of charge, such as grief retreats and national conferences.

Pictured are Colleen Hendricks, Carol Raney, Susie Checkett, Brenda Benyamin, Carrie Howe and Michelle McCoy.

Courtroom Testimony for Analysts

On March 9th, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Crime Strategies Section hosted a training presentation for Arizona crime and intelligence analysts who may be called to testify in court. “Courtroom Testimony for Analysts” used a mini-trial to present techniques on the best way to testify, how to demonstrate as an analyst you have command of the specific topic and the best ways to present yourself in court as organized, highly knowledgeable and truthful.

The class was led by experienced MCAO Deputy County Attorneys and law enforcement personnel. As crime and intelligence analysts continue to be integrated into investigative support roles, they may be called on to testify in court and so analysts may be needed to introduce their products.

Materials like hotspot maps, crime briefings, phone toll analysis, and link charts may require specialized knowledge – knowledge that crime and intelligence analysts have. Unlike detectives who have intimate knowledge of the investigation and witnesses, crime analysts may be required to testify as an expert.

This half-day presentation, attended by 50 analysts from across the state helped prepare everyone for the crucial role they play in the courts and the prosecution process.

“This was an eye-opening presentation,” reported Kristen Lottman, Mesa Police Department Crime Analyst. “We are crime analysts every day at work, but when you get up to that witness chair, not only do you have to have command of the subject, we have be able to easily reference our work, sometimes completed months or years ago and at the same time display objectivity and understanding. The mini-trial was so interesting and helpful.”

Cash Cow: Criminals Cashing in
on Cattle Being Hard to Count

Money Laundering… with Cows

Taking advantage of the fact that one cow looks pretty much like another, criminals—especially drug cartels—are using them to launder their ill-gotten gains.
How do you launder money with cows? On March 7th, MCAO Asset Recovery Bureau Chief, Peter Spaw, made a presentation at the annual conference of Western States Livestock Inspectors Association in Reno to highlight this little-known, but commonly used, practice.
“Anyone needing to launder funds can use the cattle industry,” said Spaw. “The cartels are known users and abusers because of the amounts that can be cleaned with any degree of sophistication.”
The presentation focused on how features unique to the cattle industry present opportunity for the laundering of significant amounts of racketeering proceeds through trade-based money laundering. Trade-based money laundering is a process by which the sources of racketeering—or illegally obtained—proceeds are disguised through large purchases.
Investigators at the conference learned how relatively easy invoices and other industry-related documents can be manipulated and used to create “paper” cows or hide the existence of others. The resulting trade transactions—or purchases—provide plenty of holes to hide cash going into the transaction and make it look clean coming out.
For example, due to self-inspection that is allowed under current regulations, you can actually own 500 head of cattle but, with a little inside help, falsely invoice the processing plant and get paid for 1,000 head. At $650 per head of cattle, you can hide quite a bit of money with 500 “paper” cows.
Attendees at the conference were sworn peace officers from across the western United States charged with policing and monitoring the cattle industry in their respective states.

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

Arizona remains at number 10 in the nation for identity theft. 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 CBS 5 News 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 generally tax returns older than three years.
This free event will be held on Monday, April 16th at International Paper, 301 South 30th Street in Phoenix. Each vehicle can have up to 15 banker’s boxes or 13-gallon kitchen trash bags of documents shredded for free.
The event begins at 4:30 a.m. and volunteers will be on site to unload your unwanted documents until 7 p.m. that day.
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 of Washington Street and exiting on 32nd Street off of Madison Street. As this is a popular event with County residents, 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.

Note: We cannot accept electronics, plastic--including grocery bags--or metal items. Please do not seal your boxes or bags as the contents must be removed from them for shredding.

Mega Shred-A-Thon Flyer

14th Annual Arizona Fallen Officer Memorial 5k

On Sunday, March 4, MCAO employees participated in the 
14th Annual Fallen Officer Memorial 5K walk/run.
14th Annual Arizona Fallen Officer Memorial 5k

Pictured: Tammy B., Ashley S., Pearl B., Shay B., Abraham H., Catherine F. and her husband Larry,
Kate L., and Lynne S.

14th Annual Arizona Fallen Officer Memorial 5k

At the finish line.

14th Annual Arizona Fallen Officer Memorial 5k

Shaylee B. from the Family Violence East Bureau who finished 4th in her age group and received a medal for doing so.

Community Calendar

Upcoming Events Calendar

Mega Shred-A-Thon

Monday, April 16
4:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
International Paper

301 South 30th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85034 

Pat’s Run

Saturday, April 21
7:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium

500 East Veterans Way
Tempe, AZ 85287 

’Slope Fest

Saturday, April 21
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Palma Park

1135 East Dunlap Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85020

Cinco de Mayo - Phoenix Festival

Sunday May 6
12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Downtown Phoenix

200 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Cases of Community Interest

Mugshot Javier Romero

Javier Romero Found Guilty of Murdering Co-Worker

On March 6, 2018 Javier Romero was found guilty by a jury of 2nd degree murder in connection to the 2013 stabbing death of 26-year-old Miguel “Mike” Hernandez and one count of aggravated assault on a police officer.

On November 25, 2013 police were called to a downtown Phoenix restaurant by workers indicating Romero had attacked a member of the kitchen staff with a knife.  Witnesses said the two men were working together to unload a delivery in the kitchen just before the stabbing.  Surveillance video showed that Romero attacked Hernandez from behind and dragged him toward a utility closet. 

» View Full Story «

Mugshot Jeffrey Mathis

Jeffrey Mathis Sentenced to Life in Prison for Deadly Drive By Shooting

Jeffrey Mathis was sentenced to Life in Prison with the possibility of release after 25 years for 1st degree murder and 15 years for attempted 1st degree murder. He was also sentenced to 15 years for drive by shooting and 11 years for aggravated assault which will be served concurrent to the life sentence. The sentencing is connected to a drive by shooting in the parking lot of a Phoenix night club in 2015.

“This sentencing is a just result for the defendant’s actions that night. He showed a total disregard for the innocent lives around him as he began shooting multiple times from his vehicle,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. 

» View Full Story «

Mugshot Leroy Orbeck

Leroy Orbeck Sentenced to 25 Years for Sex Trafficking and Deadly Assault on Victim’s Unborn Child

Leroy Christopher Orbeck was sentenced to 25 years in the Department of Corrections for attempted 2nd degree murder, sex trafficking, child prostitution, attempted sexual assault, and aggravated assault.

“This sentence is a clear demonstration of our commitment to hold the defendant accountable for all of his victims,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “My Office will not hesitate to see to it that defendants who attempt to benefit from the victimization of sex trafficking face the full weight of justice,” he added. 

» View Full Story «

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