Former La Paz County attorney alleges corruption in $350K claim against county
PARKER — Former La Paz County Attorney R. Glenn Buckelew has filed a $350,000 wrongful termination claim against the county.
In his claim, Buckelew says other county officials are guilty of misusing county funds, falsifying documents, playing favorites and violating open meeting laws.
His attorney, Martin A. Bihn, alleges in papers sent to the county that Buckelew was dismissed because of his actions in attempting to uncover and correct alleged illegal and improper actions by present and former county officials.
The defendants named in the claim include the County, Rogers, Deputy County Attorney Karen Hobbs, Sheriff Bill Risen, and a sheriff’s deputy identified only as “Rodriguez.”
Current County Attorney Tony Rogers said he had read Buckelew’s claim against the county, which was received Feb. 21. He told the Parker Pioneer he would have a statement prepared next week.
Buckelew served two terms as county attorney, and also served as chief civil deputy.
“Buckelew was very sensitive to the fact that he represented the interests of the County and not the individual elected officials,” Bihn stated in the claim. “Unfortunately for the citizens of La Paz County, its public officials have a long history of sordid behavior, corruption, self-dealing, and abusing their offices.”
Among the individuals Buckelew says engaged in alleged illegal and improper conduct are former La Paz County Administrator Dan Field; his wife, former Public Defender Kathy Field; La Paz County District 3 Supervisor Holly Irwin; her husband, La Paz County Sheriff’s Deputy Larry Irwin; and former District 1 Supervisor and County Sheriff John Drum.
Of this group, the Irwins are still with the county. Dan Field was dismissed late in 2016. Kathy Field was dismissed in May 2017. Drum lost a reelection bid for Sheriff to Bill Risen in the 2016 Republican primary. Risen went on to be elected sheriff.
The claim filed by Bihn states Buckelew provided materials to various investigative agencies, including the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the FBI and the State Bar. The claim adds that Rogers did not support Buckelew’s efforts.
A confrontation over two days, Aug. 1-2, 2018, between Buckelew and Chief Deputy County Attorney Karen Hobbs over a case file became heated. It led to Buckelew being escorted out of the County Attorney’s office by Sheriff Risen and a deputy who’s named in the claim papers as “Rodriguez.”
Buckelew was fired a short time later by Rogers.
“As a result of the conduct of Rogers, Hobbs, Risen and Rodriguez, Buckelew has suffered financial and emotional harm to include impairment of this reputation and his standing in the community,” the claim papers state. “Buckelew intended and expected to work for several more years. Not only has Buckelew lost the wages that he would have earned, but the termination has profoundly impacted his expected ASRS (Arizona State Retirement System) retirement.”
The claim closes by saying, “Mr. Buckelew’s claims can be settled for $350,000.”