Sheriff Paul Penzone says no excuses after Maricopa County forced to drop 180 cases
PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said Monday there are no excuses after prosecutors in metro Phoenix were forced to drop 180 criminal cases after charges weren’t filed before the statute of limitation expired.
Penzone, speaking on behalf of Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Col. Heston Silbert, said he felt for the victims of the cases not prosecuted by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
“The colonel and I recognize the difficulties in managing complex organizations and the corresponding challenges, but we found nothing to mitigate or exonerate the breadth of this deficiency,” Penzone said in a statement to KTAR News 92.3 FM.
Penzone said he and Silbert spoke with County Attorney Allister Adel, who assured that the problem would be corrected for the future.
“We emphasized to the county attorney our expectation there must be integrity and transparency in communication with the victims impacted by this issue,” Penzone said.
“We also requested immediate feedback upon MCAO’s solution to this problem to ensure it will not be repeated.”
The misdemeanor cases, which were never delegated to prosecutors, included drunk driving, domestic violence, assaults and criminal damage incidents that happened in 2020.
Most were initiated by DPS, led by Silbert, and the county sheriff’s office, led by Penzone.
Arizona law requires misdemeanor cases to be filed within a year of the alleged crimes.
“Our highest priority is for victims, who due to these circumstances will not receive justice,” Penzone said.
The incident is the latest in a tumultuous year for Adel and her office.
Five MCAO criminal division chiefs, including Green, sent a letter last month to Adel asking for her resignation, accusing the Republican of continuing to drink following treatment and letting the problem bleed into her work performance.
Adel fought back against those claims, saying she wouldn’t resign.
Adel, the first female elected to the position, sought in-patient services in Arizona for anxiety and “unhealthy coping behaviors” on Aug. 29, 2021.
A week later, Adel was transferred to a facility in California.
She revealed to the public on Sept. 10 she would be away from the office, 12 days after first seeking help for her problems.
When she was elected in November 2020, Adel underwent emergency surgery on election night for a brain bleed after a fall.
She was back at work full-time the following spring. but in August she went into treatment for alcohol abuse, an eating disorder and other issues.
Adel defeated Democratic challenger Julie Gunnigle in the November 2020 election to retain her position after she was appointed to replace Bill Montgomery, who left for a seat on the state Supreme Court.
Adel spent election night in the hospital having emergency surgery for a brain bleed, the result of an earlier fall at home.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.