Thursday, February 16, 2012

County Prosecutor requests FBI investigate Quartzsite Corruption

Dennis Wagner, of the Arizona Republic and USA Today confirms what many locals have been speculating, the FBI is investigating Quartzsite officials.

Power struggle in Quartzsite spills into court, Internet

Legal filings and crude website mockery

A power struggle at Quartzsite Town Hall has now moved into the courts, with allegations that the municipal attorney is criminally prosecuting political enemies while smearing them on the Internet with spoof websites.
In recent weeks, two defense lawyers have filed motions in Quartzsite Magistrate Court accusing Martin Brannan, the town's lawyer, of conflicts and unethical conduct.
At the same time, La Paz County Attorney Sam Vederman has asked the FBI to investigate "potential systemic corruption" involving municipal leaders. In a Jan. 3 letter obtained by The Arizona Republic via a public-records request, Vederman said he believes residents of the town are being "targeted for arrest and prosecution simply because they are in political opposition" to town officials.
"I have a lot of concerns about what's going on in Quartzsite right now," Vederman said. "But to have any semblance of fairness, it (an investigation) can't be done by local officials."
An FBI spokesman declined to comment.
The legal contretemps involve opposing factions locked in a years-long struggle for control of a desert community that has a full-time population of about 3,500 and an estimated 2 million visitors annually.
The western Arizona town, which has been through a series of recall elections and courtroom battles over the past few years, made national news last year when a YouTube video showed an activist being dragged away in handcuffs after trying to discuss freedom of speech at a public meeting.
More than a half-dozen critics of the ruling group have been arrested -- many of them repeatedly -- in what dissidents say is a campaign of harassment. They were supported last year by most of the town's police officers, who signed a letter accusing Chief Jeff Gilbert of using his authority for political retaliation. Eight of those officers were fired and have sued the town in a pending federal court case.
Many of the criminal cases against dissidents arose from Town Council sessions at which they were accused of disorderly conduct, failing to obey police and malfeasance.
Three examples from public records:
In August, then-Mayor Ed Foster was arrested on orders of the police chief on suspicion of criminal malfeasance because he allegedly failed to adjourn a meeting after the majority of Town Council members walked out in protest. In his letter to the FBI, Vederman contends that charge was "politically motivated."
Jennifer "Jade" Jones, a local news publisher and outspoken critic of Quartzsite leadership, has been arrested at least five times in the past two years. In one case, she was hauled from a council meeting in handcuffs at the police chief's direction after speaking with the mayor's approval -- an arrest that the attorney general said violated Arizona's Open-Meetings Law. All the charges were subsequently dismissed, according to municipal court records.
Another dissident was arrested in April 2010 and accused of disrupting a meeting because he spoke disparagingly of the police chief, according to a Court of Appeals panel that threw out the conviction for lack of evidence.
After many of the charges against town critics were dismissed by prosecutors, the police chief sent an e-mail to the La Paz County attorney asking that he recuse himself due to bias. In a response, Vederman denied the request and wrote, "If you want to arrest people ... when there is no reasonable likelihood of conviction, that is your decision. However, I do not approve of it."
Gilbert told The Republic that accusations of selective or retaliatory enforcement are "absolutely false." He accused the former mayor, the publisher and their associates of being provocateurs who violate laws.
"These are all very legitimate criminal cases," he said. "The town has been under a constant barrage of attacks by a lot of propaganda."
Brannan and town officials other than Gilbert declined to comment.
Michael Frame, a lawyer who represents Foster, recently submitted three motions calling for Brannan to be removed as prosecutor due to alleged conflicts.
Frame noted that Brannan is the subject of an ethics complaint filed by Foster with the Arizona Bar. (The Bar is reviewing three complaints against Brannan, according to a spokesman who said the details are not public.)
Quartzsite's legal infighting is magnified by personal attacks and spoofs on the Internet, including crude sexual allegations against town critics. Frame's court filings allege that Brannan is responsible for Web postings at and that malign political foes with "false allegations and personal insults."
"Mr. Brannan is using his power as prosecutor to intimidate and bully the defendants for whom he has a personal bias against, in a fashion that is contrary to interests of justice, common decency and the law," Frame wrote.
The court motions were never ruled upon, Frame said, because Brannan withdrew as prosecutor and appointed special prosecutors to handle the cases before hearings could be held.
Frame's court complaints are supported in a motion filed last month by Matt Newman, another defense attorney who alleges that Quartzsite officials are "targeting certain individuals for prosecution due to their political views." Newman, an appointed public defender, asked to be relieved of all Quartzsite cases because the town's administration is so "tainted." He served as Quartzsite prosecutor for 12 years but was fired in April after refusing to press charges against a resident who, he asserted, was arrested for political activism.
Besides the policing conflicts, critics have assailed the town's administration for secrecy. Last year, the attorney general and state ombudsman found that Quartzsite leaders repeatedly violated Arizona laws governing public meetings and records.
Jones, the newspaper publisher, said state or federal investigators should step in to enforce the rule of law.
"It's really become an experiment in municipal government gone awry," she said. "Right now, these guys have a pass, and they're just laughing."
"We've got a wild West town here," former Mayor Foster added. "I'm concerned somebody's going to get pushed too hard and get a gun and come out shooting."


  1. The first thing that needs clearly stated here is that Vederman is every bit as guilty as his buddy, Gilbert. His concern and the reason for asking the FBI to finally step in is so that he is hoping not to get caught up in the corruption within the Town of Quartzsite. He has covered up, he has refused to release documents, this list goes on and on.

  2. According to the Linda Conley letter, and the Vederman request for an FBI investigation, posted as the breaking news at

    perhaps somebody is going to finally examine the corruption in this town! Hopefully.

    It may finally be time for the civil rights lawsuits to begin....

  3. You can now read La Paz County Attorney Sam Vederman’s letter to the F.B.I. dated 3JAN12 requesting a full investigation into the Town of Quartzsite and the Quartzsite Police Department and Chief Jeff Gilbert!

  4. YaAll be careful now, I think things are going to get a little wild in the desert because the FBI has been asked to look into the corrupt city leaders.

  5. If the FBI conducts an active investigation, do you think the AZ DPS and AG will pile on?? They won't want to be shown up by the Feds, will they?? They'll at least want to appear to be on top of things. Just wait. Soon the rats will start deserting the ship and all the sheeple of Quartzsite will start the "I was rootin for you all the time" glad handing.

  6. Yes freedom of speech is doing OK in the cyber world of the INTERNET. I do believe people have the right to speak up and speak out as long as you do no hateful harm. I believe in a good funny piece, your turn in the bucket, rag on someone in good humor but in this case where Quartzsite is having its Political Power Struggles and getting people to understand what happening, what needs to be done "on both side" this does not help. It makes Quartzsite a JOKE. It makes everyone living here a JOKE. Which is getting to be a very sad case. Our streets were empty and the vendors were hurting but all we can do with our time is write a "outhouse page" about a city official running for office. The Race remarks just shows the world where Quartzsite sets on the intelligent scale of human beings. Shame on you!

    No brain power here just a waste of my time, your time and the "real people" who care time. Admin.

  7. Lets all hope the F.B.I. investigation will uncover the truth, Iam sure it will.Crooks will band together when the getin is good,but when things start to unravel, its every crook for themself. Ever so often the investigators will off imunity or partial imunity to one of the crooks," states witness". one wont know till trail who it is. Also while being investigated, crooks will huddle together to get thier story straight, some will be very nervous during that time, for good reason. like they say in nascar, who will get the lucky dog, mr. sam shady, blythe

  8. I think Quartzsite should change its name. It should be known as the town full of people with no name. That is based on the vast majority of posters to this site being "Anoymous."

  9. I agree blackrulon, notice Paul Staudt and I are the ONLY ones who ALWAYS use their name. Everyone else is afraid of the Nazi's. That's how we get to this point folks, by being afraid. If more people would've stood up to the bullies early on we would have never gotten to this point. The next time someone tries to push you around in Quartzsite, even if they have a shiny badge and a gun, videotape it and post it here and on youtube.