Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quartzsite Police Chief accuses County Attorney of “prejudice”

A letter sent by La Paz County Attorney Sam Vederman to the La Paz County Board of Supervisors regarding cases deriving from Quartzsite Police Department has received a scathing reaction from Quartzsite Police Chief Jeff GIlbert.

In the letter, Vederman says he is not prosecuting misdemeanor cases originating from QPD because Gilbert informed him in a memo in June 2011 that he was requesting such cases be handled by Quartzsite Town Attorney Martin Brannan, leaving only felony cases to be prosecuted by the County Attorney. He cites the recent arrests of Michael Roth and Dana Stadler as cases in which this applies.

Vederman adds:

The e-mail itself which had the attached memorandum, from Chief Gilbert to me, dated June 24, 2011, at 3:16pm, states, “Sam, I have instructed our officers not to forward misdemeanor complaints and charges to your office, that they should be directed to the Town Prosecutor.  If you receive them by error, please let our office know.  Thank you, J. Gilbert, Chief of Police, Quartzsite Police Department”

Therefore, at Chief Gilbert’s request, all misdemeanor complaints / cases generated by the Quartzsite Police Department, including the complaints / cases involving Michael Roth and Dana Stadler from May 4, have been, or will be, dismissed by this office and those misdemeanor complaints / cases will be prosecuted at the discretion of the Quartzsite Town Prosecutor.

Gilbert responded Friday, accusing the County Attorney of showing “prejudice” and “biased actions” against Quartzsite and QPD. He asserted that Vederman had taken his June 2011 email “out of context”, saying that cases against Michael Roth and Dana Stadler had been sent to the County Attorney because they included felony charges as well as misdemeanors. Roth maintains that his charges are politically motivated.

Gilbert added:

If you choose not to fulfill your duty to the Town of Quartzsite and this agency, then I will confer with the AZ Attorney General’s Office as to what steps need to take place to ensure that our criminal cases are filed, charged and prosecuted when appropriate.

You continue to display your prejudice toward the Town and myself through your actions. However, I have overlooked your personal attacks against me, including you filing a false and unsubstantiated complaint with the FBI, in order to attempt to keep a working relationship between our agency and your office.

It is obvious that you are unable to do the same, as you continue to allow your personal indifferences with myself and the Town affect your obligations and duties as County Attorney.

The misdemeanor charges against Roth and Stadler were recently dropped by the County Attorney’s Office, with Vederman saying that the felony charges are still “under review”.

In February 2012, the Arizona Republic reported that Vederman had shared his concerns about Gilbert and his motives with the FBI’s Public Corruption Unit. The FBI later told Parker Live that the agency could “neither confirm nor deny” that they are investigating.

UPDATE: At Chief Gilbert’s request, I’m enclosing the entire text of his response below. Also, the entire text of the County Attorney’s letter to the Board of Supervisors is included before it.

VEDERMAN:

Board,

Citizens have gone to the Board of Supervisors meetings, at least two times in the past that I am aware of, to make complaints against myself and / or this office in reference to the prosecution of cases generated by the Quartzsite Police Department.

The purpose of this e-mail is to clarify the role the La Paz County Attorney’s Office has with the aforementioned cases and Quartzsite Police Department cases in general.

On June 24, 2011, Chief J. Gilbert, QPD, sent me an e-mail with an attached memorandum stating, “All misdemeanor complaints or charges are to be forwarded to the Town Prosecutor only.  If for some reason you are unsure of the charges for a “long form” complaint, then consult with Mr. Brannan first.  If you have any questions, please contact your immediate supervisor.”   Chief Gilbert copied myself and Martin Brannan with the memorandum.

In addition, the memorandum was sent to “All Personnel” at the Quartzsite Police Department.

The e-mail itself which had the attached memorandum, from Chief Gilbert to me, dated June 24, 2011, at 3:16pm, states, “Sam, I have instructed our officers not to forward misdemeanor complaints and charges to your office, that they should be directed to the Town Prosecutor.  If you receive them by error, please let our office know.  Thank you, J. Gilbert, Chief of Police, Quartzsite Police Department”

Therefore, at Chief Gilbert’s request, all misdemeanor complaints / cases generated by the Quartzsite Police Department, including the complaints / cases involving Michael Roth and Dana Stadler from May 4, have been, or will be, dismissed by this office and those misdemeanor complaints / cases will be prosecuted at the discretion of the Quartzsite Town Prosecutor.

Currently, and at the request of Chief J. Gilbert, this office only reviews cases generated by the Quartzsite Police Department for felony charges.

The cases against Michael Roth and Dana Stadler are still under review for felony charges only.

Samuel E. Vederman
La Paz County Attorney

GILBERT:

Mr. Vederman,

I am well aware of the email sent to your office on June 24, 2011, concerning how our agency files complaints. This wasdirected to our officers and your office because of a misdemeanor complaint being forwarded to your office in error. This is the same procedure that was practiced when Matt Newman was the prosecutor for the Town of Quartzsite, unless there were misdemeanor and felony violations committed in the same incident. When that occurred, it was the common practice to file all charges with your office, as you had requested in the past, in order to not have the same case presented in separate courts (Magistrate and Justice). You have obviously taken the email out of context as to its true intent of the message. I know that the officers of the Quartzsite Police Department understood the correct intent of the directive.

This is the same procedure used when other Quartzsite cases have been presented to your office that involved misdemeanors and felonies resulting from the same arrest. I am certain that the Parker Police Department uses this same practice, as your office has utilized during your term, as well as previous County Attorneys. The arrests of Michael Roth and Dana Stadler on 05-04-2012 were presented to your office because the arrests involved both misdemeanor and felony charges. If you choose not to prosecute the misdemeanor charges filed in conjunction with the felony charges, then that is at your discretion.

Your response only further confirms your biased actions when it comes to the prosecution of Quartzsite cases that you do not agree with. Your past correspondence with the Town of Quartzsite elected officials and myself has certainly proven this, starting with your objections to the release of Matt Newman as the Town of Quartzsite Prosecutor, and the hiring of Martin Brannan as such.

However, you have a responsibility to all citizens of La Paz County including the residents of Quartzsite. If you choose not to fulfill your duty to the Town of Quartzsite and this agency, then I will confer with the AZ Attorney General’s Office as to what steps need to take place to ensure that our criminal cases are filed, charged and prosecuted when appropriate.

You continue to display your prejudice toward the Town and myself through your actions. However, I have overlooked your personal attacks against me, including you filing a false and unsubstantiated complaint with the FBI, in order to attempt to keep a working relationship between our agency and your office.

It is obvious that you are unable to do the same, as you continue to allow your personal indifferences with myself and the Town affect your obligations and duties as County Attorney.

Jeff Gilbert
Chief of Police
Quartzsite Police Department

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