Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Seal
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
Justice for All
December 2018
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery

With more people moving to Maricopa County than anywhere else in the U.S. during the last five years, we’ve been busy! Did you know that we had more than 55,000 cases submitted to this Office by law enforcement?  Of those, about 37,000 were charged, with roughly 10% offered a diversion program in lieu of formal prosecution. Those are just a few of the interesting facts about our Office and I’ll share more in this issue.
This past year, we worked closely with the community through our eight Community Based Prosecution Bureaus. Organized geographically, these bureaus provide our prosecutors the ability to forge relationships with local law enforcement agencies, community groups, business leaders and residents in a particular area of the county. This approach fosters understanding of each community’s unique needs and circumstances, and improves our ability to seek justice, reduce crime and make our neighborhoods safer.

It was a great year for the Office. We continue to grow and evolve to meet the challenges and changes that come with an expanding population.
This holiday season we wish you and your family the very best and hope you enjoy this time of year. We’re kicking off our annual holiday Save Lives, Don’t DUI campaign with Lyft, Banner Health and iHeart Media to encourage you—and give you an incentive—to get a safe ride home from your holiday festivities.
Maricopa County is a great place to live. We look forward to continuing to serve you!

Bill Montgomery Signature

MCAO By the Numbers

MCAO prosecutors were involved in 421 trials; 65 of those were trials before a judge, the rest were jury trials. We continue to see crime fall with overall crime at a level not seen since 1963, while our prison population continues to shrink.
Our Office increased in size to one thousand thirty-seven positions, with 336 prosecutors, 33 civil attorneys and more than 600 support staff in positions from administrative, information technology, paralegals, community outreach and communications, among others. We have 66 military veterans serving in our Office.
Our employees are out and about on County business and covered over 600 thousand miles in county vehicles. We received more than 600 new public record requests, litigation holds, summons, subpoenas, and notices of claim. That’s nearly 100 thousand pages of printed material, and hundreds of pieces of audio and video. We received 33,000 pieces of external mail this year and delivered more than 35,000 pieces of internal mail.
MCAO Victim Services helped more than 50,000 victims seek justice, secure restitution and understand their rights.

MCAO Investigations Division conducted over 400 background investigations for new employees, vendors and Citizens Academy participants.
We continue to support current technologies while testing and pushing the boundaries of new ones to keep the Office at the forefront of innovation.
MCAO’s community affairs program continued with its mission to inform
and educate the public.

  • Our Friday Night Football Patrol program saw 11,196 kids pledge to be drug free. 
  • Our anti-bullying campaign reached 3,940 students throughout Maricopa County. 
  • Criminals are always trying out new scams. When we hear about them, we let the public know, so they won’t become victims. We held 120 Speakers Bureau presentations this year. 
  • 101 people were educated through our Citizens Academy program and are now better informed about the criminal justice process. 

Those are some big numbers, and incredible performances.

Save Lives, Don’t DUI this Holiday Season

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is joining with Lyft ride-sharing service and Banner Health to collectively raise awareness about the dangers of impaired driving this holiday season through the “Save Lives, Don’t DUI” campaign.
“During the entire month of December, we are offering our community a great incentive to ensure they have a safe ride home before they even walk out the door. I hope people consider a phone app to schedule a ride home as their personal keep out of jail app,” said County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
This year, the campaign runs from December 3rd through January 2nd, ensuring that those enjoying holiday festivities all the way through ringing in the New Year will have the ability to get a safe ride home at a discount.
“We are urging people to go on their phones now and download the app if they haven’t already. Once you have the app open, just type in the codes now, that way you have it ready to go when you need it, instead of trying to put all the information in after a night of celebrating,” said Drena Kusari, Lyft's Phoenix General Manager.
New campaign partner Banner Health is excited to join in this awareness effort since they are on the front lines of the devastation impaired driving can cause in our community.
During the campaign, first-time users who download the Lyft app can get $5 off their first four rides by entering the promo code “JOY.” Those who already have the Lyft app can enter the code “JOY18” to receive 20% off two rides allowing them to get to and from their holiday festivities safely.
“We are making ZERO fatalities this holiday season due to an impaired driver our shared goal,” declared Montgomery. “This time of year is meant to be one of celebration and joy for our community, and we’re hoping this incentive will help convince people to enjoy the festivities without putting anyone at risk on our roads.”
Incentives and education during the campaign will hopefully convince those thinking of driving, when they are impaired to the slightest degree, to instead schedule a safe ride home. The discounted rides offered through “Save Lives, Don’t DUI” will leave many riders with only a $5 to $10 charge, compared to the $5,000 to $10,000 they might spend on a DUI offense.

Celebrate with a safe ride! Sponsored by Maricopa County Attorney's Office, LYFT, Banner Health, and iHeart Media

Celebrating 30 years!

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office 2018 Annual Meeting was held last month and in addition to highlighting Office milestones and achievements from the past year, we also recognized four employees who moved into the thirty-year club, celebrating three decades with MCAO. Deputy County Attorneys Burt Jorgensen, Juan Martinez and Kevin Maricle and Legal Support Specialist Dawn Grigsby started work with the Office when gasoline was a mere $0.91 cents a gallon and Ronald Reagan was President. In 1988, computers at the Office were nowhere to be found and the MCAO used printed “speed letters” to communicate with other employees and even attorneys outside the Office. These four MCAO newbies worked on 19,825 filings that first year on behalf of just 2,002,400 people residing in Maricopa County. Community Based Prosecution Bureau Chief Burt Jorgensen tells us lots of things have changed in his thirty-year span, but the big things remain the same, and are what keeps him here now. The diversity of cases, the daily challenge and the opportunity to work with many different attorneys as well as our relationships with law enforcement and the community remain the most interesting parts of the job. “I still remember my first trial, said Burt. “Since that time I have enjoyed many different opportunities with the Office, from prosecuting many types of cases in both the Justice and Superior Court to mentoring younger attorneys as a Bureau Chief. I have worked with many smart, dedicated, and engaging people. Since joining the Office, my wife and I have raised our children and have watched one of them become a lawyer. I am truly looking forward to many more years seeking justice for the community we serve.” Prosecutor Juan Martinez agrees, “Everyone is entitled to justice and this job over the last 30 years has enabled me to achieve that for victims and the community.” Dawn Grigsby arrives at the Office each day, still amazed that 30 years have gone by so fast, “I enjoy my work and all the MCAO friends I’ve made just as much today as I did in 1988.” County Attorney Bill Montgomery congratulates all four, “Without the loyalty and hard work of prosecution experts like these, the Office could not have accomplished so much. Thank you for your service.”


Community Based Prosecution of the Year
State v. Elijah Shelton

The Community Based Prosecution (CBP) model at the MCAO assigns teams of prosecutors to one of eight geographically assigned areas in the County and allows prosecutors to develop close working relationships with law enforcement and community partners in their assigned area. This year’s MCAO Annual Meeting initiated a new award category created to recognize a CBP team who worked on a specific, significant CBP prosecution. Prosecutors Michelle Vaitkus and Nicole Northup, Paralegal Jason Backman, Legal Support Specialist Shandy Poindexter and Detective John Byrd were nominated by Bureau Chiefs Maryann McKessy and Jason Kalish for their collaborative efforts in the successful prosecution of defendant Elijah Shelton. In 2015, a fatal shooting occurred at a Phoenix motel after an argument between the defendant and the victim. The defendant pulled out a handgun and shot at the deceased victim and his girlfriend. Several family members of the defendant were present when the shooting occurred and the girlfriend of the deceased is the half-sister of the defendant. Prior to trial the defendant’s half-sister and a witness, became uncooperative and was evading the State’s attempts to make contact and serve her with a subpoena for trial. Detective Byrd’s persistent efforts to locate the half-sister paid off; however, that was only half the battle. She was being pressured not to testify and as a result she was reluctant to attend court and testify against her brother at trial. Detective Byrd spent time assuring her that the State would provide her with safe accommodations during trial. Prosecutor Michelle Vaitkus picked up where Detective Byrd left off and continued to maintain open lines of communication so she finally felt comfortable coming to court every day of trial and testifying. Without this testimony the State’s case would have been significantly more difficult. Prosecutor Nicole Northup provided excellent insight and valuable support as the second chair at trial. And the success in the courtroom was also owing to the expertise of paralegal Jason Backman and the exceptional support from Shandy Poindexter. “This case shows the good that can happen when we work as a team,” said CBP Bureau Chief Jason Kalish. “Everybody involved did an incredible job making Maricopa County safer and getting justice for the victim.” Bureau Chief Maryann McKessy agrees, “This team exemplified the CBP model and through their collective efforts, Elijah Shelton was held accountable for his heinous criminal acts.”

Community Based Prosecution of the Year - State v. Elijah Shelton
Detective John Byrd and from CBP West: Legal Support Specialist Shandy Poindexter,
Prosecutor Nicole Northup, Prosecutor Michelle Vaitkus and Paralegal Supervisor Jason Backman

Learn More About Criminal Justice at the
MCAO Citizens Academy

MCAO Citizens Academy

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a prosecutor, or how a criminal case gets to trial, our Citizens Academy is for you. Applications are now being accepted for winter and spring sessions.

The Citizens Academy takes you behind the scenes to show how a case progresses from the initial investigation through final sentencing. You’ll sit in on courtroom proceedings, take a tour of the jail, and learn about trial exhibits, cold case investigations and more.

Classes last one full day, and upcoming dates are listed below. Classes fill up fast, so apply early.

For more information and to register, visit:

Upcoming Dates

January 24, 2019
February 21, 2019
March 28, 2019
April 18, 2019
May 16, 2019

Applications due 2 weeks before class date.

2018 Records Appreciation Day

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is paperless, but not paper-free … not yet. In fact, the Office is still home to millions of records, including criminal and civil case files, human resources material, financial information and grant records – to name just a few. To manage all these paper and digital records, MCAO has teams of Records Managers, Information Technology experts and Public Records gurus, not to mention our prosecutors and support staff who are trained on the proper way to scan, convert and dispose of records, capture and maintain case information and effectively manage all these archives, records and chronicles of business at the MCAO.
Again this year, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey proclaimed Thursday, November 8, as “Law Enforcement Records Personnel Appreciation Day.” This is a collaborative effort by Records Managers and Supervisors around the state to recognize the conscientious men and women who work behind the scenes of law enforcement agencies, criminal justice offices, prosecutor’s offices and police agencies providing vital services by maintaining agency records. To celebrate and recognize all the “Records Royalty” in our Office for everything they do, their expertise and experience managing the “digital divide” and ensuring that our crucial sources of information are categorized, catalogued and maintained, MCAO Administration surprised both the Records crew and the Public Records squad with cake and some appreciative words. “Everything you’re doing is helping the Office move toward our goal of being paper free,” said Edward Johnson, MCAO Administration Deputy Chief. “Excellent records management is increasingly important and without a good system and equally good people in place, the Office would fall apart. We’re appreciative of all the work they do and their attention to detail. Information is the lifeblood of the organization and we’re happy to celebrate those helping us manage all of it.”

Records Team
MCAO Records Crew and Public Records Squad

Veterans Day Parade 

MCAO Veterans, employees, friends and family members, along with Marines from Bulk Fuel Company C, a reserve unit located in Phoenix, Arizona, participated in the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on November 12, 2018. The theme for this year’s parade was World War I: Out of the Trenches. To commemorate and honor World War I Veterans, MCAO’s entry depicted “The Dawn of American Armor,” which highlighted the fact that the St. Mihiel and Meuse Argonne offensives were the first time that United States Army tanks, commanded by then Lieutenant Colonel George S. Patton, Jr., were deployed and used in combat.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, a former tank platoon leader and West Point graduate, noted, “Tanks were essential in the outcome of World War I because they enabled Allied Forces to break the stalemate in the trenches, and ultimately—along with American infantry — defeated more technologically and tactically advanced German tanks. The tankers of the First World War were pioneers in armored warfare, whose service and sacrifice enabled the United States to develop a contemporary armored force that is the tip of the sword for American military power and a fundamental strength of our national security strategy.”
The Marines from Bulk Fuel Company C provided MCAO with a 7 ton truck, known as an MTVR, for the parade, and a squad of marines marched alongside the truck during the parade route. Volunteers from MCAO walked alongside the truck and handed out pencils to children with the message “You Use, You Lose” to encourage them not to use drugs and alcohol. MCA Montgomery and other veterans from the MCAO family were in the truck and waved to spectators along the parade route.

MCAO Veteran's Day Parade Float

Cases of Community Interest

Mugshot Bryant Ozorio

Bryant Ozorio Escapes while Jury Convicts on 10 Counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

Bryant Ozorio was found guilty in absentia by a jury for 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a dangerous crime against children on October 23, 2018. Ozorio was facing a minimum sentence of 100 years in the Department of Corrections and prior to the last day of trial, he cut off his electronic monitoring device and has not been seen since.

“This defendant was permitted to be out in the community, though with an electronic monitor, while facing the possibility of a sentence of 100 years for possessing child pornography. This is not the first time a defendant has failed to appear when a conviction was imminent and prison likely,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “The current method of determining release does not properly take into account the risk posed to the community from offenders facing almost certain prison sentences, nor the reality of their likelihood to surrender to the court. A review of how release determinations are made in these circumstances and whether the Arnold Foundation's tool adequately serves the criminal justice system and the public is apparent.”

» View Full Story «

Christopher Rivera Sentenced for Social Media Post Threatening Students

Christopher Rivera was sentenced to two years of probation after pleading guilty to one felony count of interfering with or disruption of an educational institution. This is in connection to a threatening social media message about the possibility of a school shooting.

“This Office promised our community we would hold those responsible for school threats fully accountable for their actions,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “This sentencing shows that any threat made to the lives of students and the fear such a threat evokes in children, school personnel and parents will never be seen as a joke.”

» View Full Story «

Mugshot Gabriel Tovar

Gabriel Tovar Sentenced to 12 Years for String of Purse Thefts Targeting Elderly Victims

Gabriel Tovar was sentenced to 12 years in the Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to one count of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices. The defendant was responsible for eight different burglaries where purses were taken from a victim’s vehicle.

“Despite prior grants of probation and periods of incarceration, this defendant has continued to commit crimes. This sentencing is fitting for a defendant with four prior felony convictions who has repeatedly targeted and victimized elderly members of our community. He committed the present offense within six months of release from prison and while he was under supervision for a previous burglary,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Those advocating for criminal justice reform would do well to take this defendant’s case under consideration as an example of a prosecutor’s office utilizing our State’s repetitive offender sentencing statutes to safeguard the public and not as a default tool.”

» View Full Story «

Mugshot Jason Lindsey

Jason Lindsey Found Guilty of Murder for Drive By Shooting Killing a Teen Girl

Jason Lindsey was found guilty by a jury on the charges of first-degree murder, drive by shooting and three counts of aggravated assault all related to him firing a gun from the passenger side window at another car killing 16-year-old Niani Rayshawn Allen.

“Although witnesses and many directly involved in the incident were uncooperative, prosecutors refused to accept anything less than justice for the victim in this case who had her life cut short by the dangerous and deadly actions of the defendant,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

» View Full Story «

Mugshot Francisco Nieblas Rodriguez

Francisco Nieblas Rodriguez Sentenced to 33 Years for String of Armed Robberies

Francisco Nieblas Rodriguez was sentenced to 33 years in the Department of Corrections after being found guilty of seven counts of armed robbery, two counts of attempted armed robbery, seven counts of kidnapping and nine counts of aggravated assault.

“Anytime an individual commits a robbery with a weapon like this, the potential for violence increases and people are needlessly placed in fear for their lives,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “This sentencing clearly communicates our willingness to aggressively prosecute and punish those who place fellow members of our community at risk.”

» View Full Story «

Mugshot Josef Dixon

Josef Dixon Sentenced to 190 Years for 14 Counts of Child Prostitution

Josef Dixon was sentenced to 190 years in the Department of Corrections after being found guilty of 14 counts of child prostitution and one count of drug possession.

“This sentencing should serve as an example of the type of punishment we will pursue for anyone who desires to profit from sex slavery. Make no mistake, whenever and wherever we can, we will partner with law enforcement to make Maricopa County the most unwelcome place to exploit children,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

» View Full Story «

Mugshot Aaron Ott

Aaron Ott Sentenced to 27 Years for Murder of Teen Victim Over a Video Game System

Aaron Ott was sentenced to 27 years in the Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to armed robbery and second-degree murder of 16-year-old Miguel Navarro who met the defendant to sell an Xbox.

“This sentencing will offer this defendant time to think about the lasting effects of his violent actions and the impact of callously cutting an innocent young man’s life short,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

» View Full Story «

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