PHOENIX — Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says he’s proven that he’s not being lenient with the relative of a high ranking politician.
Austin Flake and his wife Logan are indicted 28 counts of cruelty to animals after 23 dogs were found dead at the Green Acre Dog Boarding company in Gilbert. The Flakes were watching over the dogs while company owners Todd and Maleissa Hughes were out of town.
Austin is the son of U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Montgomery said that the charges prove that his office isn’t going light on the senator’s son.
“It’s been some bemusing that from the beginning when I said we were going to take this case seriously and assess it from an evidentiary perspective, and that no one’s high profile relationship to anyone else is going to be a factor, and that’s exactly the way we handled it,” said Montgomery. “Many people now are, I won’t say apologizing, but they are sending me messages stating that they should have believed me to begin with. I won’t say ‘I told you so,’ but this case is no different than any other in that regard or anything else that we’re going to do.”
The Flakes’ 28 counts, including 21 felony counts, of cruelty to animals are two fewer than those that the Hughes’ face — they are also accused of fraud. Montgomery wouldn’t say why the Flakes aren’t charged with that as well.
“In looking at the entirety of the investigation, we’ve been able, as prosecutors, to distinguish different levels of culpability between different defendants, and I think that’s reflected in the charges,” Montgomery said.
The county attorney said there is a reason that he let a grand jury decide whether to indict the defendants. He said that had his office filed a direct complaint with the court, it would have had to present a lengthy “mini trial” of the case in a preliminary hearing.
“If we go the grand jury route, we don’t have the hearing,” said Montgomery. “The state is able to present evidence and a witness in a much less formal setting and provide information to members of a grand jury and have them vote whether or not we presented enough evidence to establish probable cause.”
A hearing for the four defendants is set for Thursday.