Arizona legislators indicted Money laundering, bribery charged


PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Indictments that read like a seamy best seller were returned yesterday against at least seven legislators, four lobbyists and four others as the result of a political-corruption "sting" by Phoenix police.

Charges include bribery, campaign-law violations, money laundering, solicitation to commit murder and other crimes.

Raw expressions of greed and manipulation electronically taped during the sting punctuate the Maricopa County grand jury indictments, which run more than 150 pages.

Representatives of the Phoenix Police Department and the county Attorney's Office announced the indictments last night but refused to answer questions.

"This is a political indictment hatched for political reasons," said Rep. Sue Laybe, a Phoenix Democrat accused of taking more than $10,000 in cash.

One of those indicted, Rep. Bobby Raymond, D-Phoenix, cynically referred to his fellow legislators as "unsophisticated whores."

Another of the indicted legislators, Senate Majority Whip Carolyn Walker, is quoted as speaking blatantly about her reasons for selling her influence in an effort to bring casino gambling to Arizona.

"I like the good life, and I'm trying to position myself that I can live the good life and have more money," said Walker, a south Phoenix Democrat.

Rep. Don Kenney, R-Phoenix, said he would be the "quarterback" in pushing gambling legislation, and plotted to lure other legislators into the scheme, according to the indictments.

"Each one has a different button that's going to motivate him and a different hook that's going to bring him in," Kenney said.

George Stragalas, a former executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party who lost a campaign for state treasurer last year, agreed to take part in the scheme as "executive vice president in charge of bribery," the indictments say.

In addition to Laybe, Raymond, Kenney and Walker, legislators indicted are Rep. Jim Hartdegen, R-Casa Grande; Sen. Jesus "Chuy" Higuera, D-Tucson; and Rep. Jim Meredith, R-Phoenix.

Lobbyists are Richard Scheffel; Ernest Hoffman; Ronald Tapp, a lobbyist for bail bondsmen; and David Horwitz, a lobbyist for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Others are Stragalas; Shiree Foster, an administrative assistant at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce; Tolleson Justice of the Peace Donald Stump; and David Manley, chairman of the Maricopa County Democratic Party and an aide to C. Diane Bishop, state superintendent of public instruction.

It is believed that indictments against two other people were returned yesterday, but police and prosecutors would not identify them.

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