Grand jury indicts Superior Mayor Valenzuela on one count of felony theft of town funds

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Jayme Valenzuela

 

Court date set for August 4; Valenzuela terminated from job with Pinal County Sheriff’s Office

A State Grand Jury issued an indictment against Jayme Valenzuela, Mayor of the Town of Superior, charging him with one count of theft, a class 5 felony, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced on July 8.

The Superior Town Council hired an auditor who determined that Mayor Valenzuela used the

town’s debit card on eight separate occasions to obtain a total of $2,300 in cash between August 2013 and December 2014. Two of the withdrawals were made at the Wild Horse Pass Casino in Chandler, and the other six withdrawals occurred at various bank machines in Maricopa and Pinal Counties.

The Grand Jury determined that these actions constituted enough evidence to warrant a trial. Valenzuela (named in the indictment as Frank Jayme Valenzuela) was thus served with a summons to appear in court on August 04, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. at 175 W. Madison, Third Floor, Phoenix.

If convicted, Valenzuela could face up to 2.5 years in jail. However, should Valenzuela having repaid the funds plus transaction fees following the audit be seen by a jury as a mitigating circumstance, the sentence could be as little as probation, said Mia Garcia, public information officer with the Attorney General’s (AG) Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Sheila Madden.

No matter what the outcome of the trail, Valenzuela will not be returning to his high-paid job with the Pinal County Detention Center in Casa Grande, where for several years he served as a commander in charge of contracts and supplies.

Since the AG launched its investigation in February, Valenzuela had been put on paid administrative reassignment. However in June it was reported that Valenzuela had gone on a paid leave of absence for reasons of stress.

That Valenzuela in his position as Mayor of Superior exceeded his lawful authority by using the town debit card for purposes other than town business was revealed at the December 2015 Town Council meeting during a hearing on whether to retain Town Clerk Rachelle Sanchez beyond her six month probationary period. Sanchez told of four undocumented withdrawals of funds made at ATMs from the town debit card at Valenzuela’s disposal. Valenzuela admitted making the withdrawals, said they were a mistake, and would repay the funds. In a subsequent vote on Sanchez’s employment, Valenzuela cast the deciding vote to terminate her.

The auditing firm of Colby & Powell LLC was brought in by the Town Council to check the town’s financial records, and the subsequent report found twice as many withdrawals at Sanchez discovered. Council members thus voted to request that the Arizona Department of Public Safety to conduct a criminal investigation into the findings of the auditor’s report. The probe was turned over to the AG in February.

Although Arizona statutes bar a convicted felon from holding governmental office, whether Valenzuela will continue to serve as Superior Mayor while under indictment is unsure. Town Manager Todd Pryor referred the Superior Sun to Town Attorney Stephen Cooper, who was unavailable for comment as of 5:00 p.m. July 8. But a recall election to determine if Valenzuela is to remain in his elected position is set for August 30, where to alternate candidate is Councilman Mila Besich-Lira.

All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, Brnovich added.

James Hodl (101 Posts)

James J. Hodl is a career journalist who has worked for newspapers, magazines and trade journals. A graduate of Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism, Hodl began his career as a reporter with the Palatine (IL) Herald and the Morton Grove (IL) Review before becoming editor of the trade publication Appliance Service News. In recent years, Hodl has had articles published in Consumers Digest, Good Housekeeping, Home Remodeling, Kitchens & Baths and Salute; and has contributed to trade publications serving the home furnishings, restaurant and casino markets. A native of Chicago, Hodl relocated to San Tan Valley in 2013.


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwitterby feather

Comments are closed.

  • Additional Stories

    Pitchers dominating as Superior returns to top of 1A rankings

    April 10th, 2019
    by

      The Superior baseball team reclaimed its position at the top of the 1A rankings thanks in part to a […]


    Pantherettes extend winning streak to five

    April 10th, 2019
    by

      The fourth-ranked Superior softball team has won six of its last seven games, including five-straight following wins against Duncan […]


    Inaugural art fest a huge success for Superior

    April 10th, 2019
    by

    April 6 was a busy day in Downtown Superior with the inaugural Superior Arts Festival.  A self guided mural walk, […]


    Dr. Michael Miles’ Health Issues — Heading into Summer: It’s Good to Know About Skin Cancer

    April 10th, 2019
    by

    The skin is the largest “organ” of the body.  It functions as the “first line of defense,” protecting the body […]


  • Additional Stories

    Flower Power art exhibition open at Triangle L Ranch in Oracle, AZ

    April 10th, 2019
    by

      Ten artists are celebrating flowers and nature in a tribute to the days of ‘Flower Power.’ The art exhibit […]


    Prevention is key when it comes to wildfire risk reduction

    April 10th, 2019
    by

      The adage is true. One spark can start a wildfire – just like the Sawmill Fire in Southern Arizona. […]


    Active Parenting: First Five Years Classes

    April 10th, 2019
    by

      Arizona Youth Partnership and First Things First are sponsoring free Active Parenting: First Five Years classes for parents and […]


    Annual Oracle Spring Run Car Show moves to Living Word Chapel April 13

    April 10th, 2019
    by

      The Oracle Historical Society’s (OHS) annual fundraiser, the 33rd Oracle Spring Run Car Show, will be held on Saturday, […]


  • Copperarea

  • [Advertisement.]
  • [Advertisement.]
  • [Advertisement.]
  • Southeast Valley Ledger