Did prosecutor present sculpted facts to new Grand Jury omitting the actual responsible parties?
Hear that prolonged “phew” resonating across the Valley? That’s Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery breathing a deep sigh of relief after a County Grand Jury reinstated animal cruelty charges against the owners of Green Acre Dog Boarding in Gilbert in connection with the agonizing heat related suffocation deaths of nearly two dozen dogs that occurred during the searing summer heat of June 2014.
Todd Hughes, 32, and MaLeisa Hughes, 45, owners of the kennel each face 21 Class 6 felony counts and 7 Class 1 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. Both also face one Class 2 felony count of fraudulent schemes and artifices.
The couple was vacationing in Florida when the deaths occurred last June. They are the expendable mother and stepfather of Logan Flake —- wife of Sen. Jeff Flake’s son Austin —- who were actually in charge of the facility when the dogs were crammed into a small laundry room overnight without air-conditioning, food or water.
Charging the Flakes is what gave Montgomery heartburn. So just before Christmas 2014, when he thought few were paying attention, Montgomery dismissed all felony and misdemeanor charges against Jeff Flake’s son and daughter-in-law. A single fraud charge remained against Todd and MaLeisa Hughes.
It was clear from the June 20 onset, when the dead and dying dogs were found, Bill Montgomery was loath to touch this case. He dillied and dallied, even after Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s extensive three-month examination of facts which included veterinarian performed necropsies. The sheriff’s office recommended numerous felony charges of animal neglect and cruelty in connection with the horrific abuse of the pets. The dogs suffered excruciating pain before dying. When the Flakes found them the next morning, they neglected to even call a veterinarian to aid the not yet dead pets, which they callously hosed down in a vain attempt to cool them. The dead dogs were carted off to a shed where they were stacked like cordwood.
As we noted last September in the post, “Bill Montgomery: Between a Flake and a hard place,” the politically ambitious Montgomery, who endorsed Jeff Flake in his senate race, has career aspirations that are rumored to include the state’s second senate seat, when McCain finally moves on. Obviously how he chose to handle this widely scrutinized case could have had devastating consequences for his ambitions.
This is the latest news release announcing the reinstatement of charges against the Hugheses. Notice the tempered wording of this May 6 announcement as Montgomery refers to the dead pets as “beloved animals.” Previously at a Sept. 10, 2014 press conference Montgomery exhibited raw insensitivity to the grieving pet owners as he provided insight as to his bent. “This isn’t to cheapen or minimize the loss of the pets to the families,” Montgomery said. “But we’re not talking about the deaths of 23 children.”
Without the weight of an indictment, Austin and Logan Flake have moved on. Now that Montgomery has dropped all felony charges against them, they’re suing Maricopa County and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, seeking $8 million to resurrect their formerly pristine reputations, claiming they were targeted by the Sheriff’s office and their sterling characters were ruined by this investigation.
Maricopa County taxpayers should prepare to dig deep for this legal escapade by two marginal Flakes. Since the lawsuit against the county specifically names Sheriff Arpaio, the daily fish wrap will serve as lead cheerleader as these lightweights attempt to get rich on our backs and the carcasses of the dogs they allowed to suffer and die.
This post, “Bill Montgomery sets Flakes loose on county taxpayers” includes additional background.