Details On the Administration’s ‘Basis’ For USA Charton’s Firing


U.S. Attorney Charlton in Phoenix was fired for "repeated instances of insubordination, actions taken contrary to instructions, and actions taken that were clearly unauthorized." Documents released by the Administration also include a chain of e-mails from August 2006 in which Charlton tried to reach Gonzales to persuade him the death penalty was inappropriate for the case without the body.

On Aug. 16, Michael Elston in the deputy attorney general’s office told Charlton: "The AG has denied your invitation to speak further about the case. Please file the notice." Later that day Charlton’s office advised the federal court in Phoenix that it would seek death for Jose Rios Rico in the 2003 drug slaying of Angela Pinkerton.

In the Rios Rico case, the dispute centered on the Justice Department’s refusal to look for Pinkerton’s body, according to people familiar with the matter. Informants, who apparently were granted plea deals in the case, had tipped federal prosecutors that her body was buried in a Waste Management Inc. landfill in Mobile, Ariz. It would cost $500,000 to $1 million to find it, however.

Federal prosecutors "told us they knew where she was buried," said Annette Grzybowski, Pinkerton’s sister. But she said Washington officials would not approve the expenditure. "I was extremely upset," Grzybowski said.

"It all took too long. It’s been four years and we still haven’t had a trial." Grzybowski’s account was confirmed by an attorney knowledgeable about the details of the case.  "As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on pending litigation," said Erik Ablin, a Justice spokesman.

Rios Rico’s defense lawyer, Thomas Gorman, said: "If this woman’s death merits a death prosecution, then her body should be found and returned to her family. The idea that they could leave it in a garbage dump is pretty disturbing."

It was only the second time Charlton had tangled with superiors in Justice over whether to seek the death penalty. Charlton also did not want to execute a Navajo, deferring to a long-standing informal policy based on the tribe’s opposition to the death penalty. But Justice officials ordered him to seek a death sentence in the slayings of two women in a carjacking.

These are the official reasons why Charlton was forced to resign. Do you think that these are really the true reasons, or could it be that Charlton was investigating improper financial transactions involving the use of his elected office by Republican Congressman Dick Renzi?

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Michael founded BlogForArizona as the Howard Dean campaign blog for Arizona in 2003, and has been blogging ever since. Michael is an attorney living in Tucson with his wife Lauren Murata. In 2008, following some health issues and new time constraints, Michael stepped back from regular blogging and began remaking BlogForArizona into a collaborative project. Michael now contributes occasionally to the blog and provides editorial and publishing direction. Also if you want to keep up with the latest Arizona and National political news that Mike finds important, check out the BlogForArizona twitter feed, which he curates.


  1. Wow, Dwight, congratulations of getting back on your meds. You are actually on topic… mostly.

    I’d be interested in seeing any sort of support for your assertions about Richardson pressuring a USA, and for Charlton’s plans for run for Governor. Great stories both, and I haven’t smelled a whiff of them.

    As to term limits for legislators, I think that is a good idea that fails to work in practice. We’ve seen in Arizona how the spirit of such a law is violated by chamber swapping, and how lobbyists are empowered by inexperienced crops of legislators. If there is someone doing an excellent job and I want to keep him in office, I see no compelling reasons to turf him out. We should instead make it easier for challengers to mount a credible campaign to unseat an incumbent. We currently have 98% retention rate in Congress. I don’t believe for a second that 98% of the bastards are doing a good job.

  2. As for the Congressman’s wrong doing; I would again put forth TERM LIMITS for Congress and the Senate. Its bad enough with a ANY President being at 8 years yet alone the Congress and Senate for LIFE? Half of these guys siting front of the cameras with druel running down there chins and if thats not bad enough can’t get out a sentence due to EXTREME DUI or a need for another drink! Its THE PEOPLES JOB to serve as a Representative LET IT BE SO!

  3. The Arizona U.S. Attorney woulf NOT -prosecute Drug Lords unless it involved a very high amount of money or drugs, nor bring Illegalls to Justice time after time after time; just as The U.S. Attorney in New Mexico REFUSED to follow up on VOTER FRAUD from the 2004 election because of presure from Gov. Richardson. The U.S. Attorney for Arizona IS planning to run for GOVERNOR!

  4. Of course they wouldn’t spend money looking for the body….. the dead mean nothing to these clowns, it is life that is precious* to the Bush administration.

    *Active Military, active Reserves, National Guard, and Iraqi civilians exempt for above offer.

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