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AG's Office declines to prosecute mayor
The Office of the Arizona Attorney General has decided not to prosecute Mayor Al Krieger on allegations of misconduct of his office and conflict of interest that were leveled against him nearly two years ago.
After completing a thorough investigation of the potential allegations arising from a complaint filed by the Yuma City Council, "it is the determination of this office that criminal prosecution is declined, because there is not a reasonable likelihood of conviction," Theodore Campagnolo, assistant attorney general and senior litigation counsel for the AG's office, stated in a letter sent late last week to City Administrator Greg Wilkinson.
"This determination is based on a conclusion that the allegations against the suspect do not rise to the level of a 'substantial interest' involving a pecuniary or proprietary interest, as required by ARS 38-503," Campagnolo explained.
"The law is clear that a criminal conflict of interest does not exist merely because a public officer acts in a way that appears to be a conflict in the eyes of the public," he wrote. "Rather a criminal conflict of interest can only exist if it meets the specific terms of the statute."
Campagnolo noted that pecuniary interest means money and a proprietary interest means ownership, according to a ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court.
He also noted that while some of the suspect's "bombastic threats" to others were "unprofessional and ill-advised," they cannot by themselves "create a conflict of interest."
"I'm just glad the process has worked through," Krieger said Saturday. "I think it vindicates me completely. By state statute and law, there is nothing to prosecute ... there was no violation. I feel I have been open and honest with the public."
While issues remain regarding his legal fees, he said, "I'm just happy to have the ruling. I think the conclusion is good for the community, my family and myself. I'm sorry that the community had to put up with this thing. It's been costly to me and the community. The whole thing was unnecessary."
On Feb. 6, Krieger filed a claim in Yuma County Superior Court against the council and city staff seeking $15,525.25, the amount he said he had accumulated in legal fees at his own expense to defend himself in an investigation brought last year by other members of the council. Since then, he said, he has incurred additional expenses.
Council members voted Feb. 1, 2012, to hire a special independent legal counsel to investigate allegations of misconduct by Krieger voiced by a former Yuma mayor during a council meeting the previous month.
The independent special counsel’s report was released on May 14, 2012. The report concluded that there was sufficient evidence that Krieger "has committed misconduct as a member of the elected body that constitutes violations of the Arizona conflict of interest statutes, Open Meeting Law, possible misuse of federal employee confidential information under the Federal Privacy Act, threatening and coercion of members of the council to change or secure their votes in his favor and against this investigation for his personal benefit, abusive or inappropriate conduct directed to other members of the legislative body, of city officials, and possibly of city staff, and violations of the strictures of the Yuma City Charter establishing the Council-Manager form of government and prohibiting interference in the administration of the City government."
The Yuma City Council subsequently adopted a resolution accepting the special counsel’s findings, censured Krieger and directed that the findings be forwarded "to appropriate authorities for consideration of possible enforcement action as provided by law."
The findings were subsequently forwarded to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for an investigation into the complaint.