Good Samaritan Drug Law

Reminder: Arizona has a Good Samaritan drug law that can help save lives. The statute protects victims of overdose as well as those who call for medical help while present during an overdose.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there have been more than 9,800 suspected Opioid deaths statewide since June 2017.

During a drug-induced overdose, time is of the essence. Do not be afraid to call for help.

Below is a message from County Attorney Kent Volkmer.

Oracle Arizona Adds A New Little Free Pantry

Have you heard of a Little Free Pantry? The Oracle Fire District and several volunteers are excited to open the first one in Pinal County. Located at the Oracle, AZ Community Center, organizers hope that those in need will be able to find food, toiletries, and pet supplies that they are unable to purchase for themselves during these difficult times. The pantry is entirely free and stocked by members of the community. If you’d like to learn more about creating a pantry, visit littlefreepantry.org

Scam Alert!

Florence, Arizona – The Pinal County Elections Department has heard from some voters about receiving calls to correct early ballot signatures and asking for your Social Security Number. The elections department does not ask for an SSN when they contact voters about mismatched signatures on early ballots. If you are a Pinal County voter and receive a call like this, please hang up the phone and call the Pinal County elections department directly. You must never give your social security number to anyone you don’t know over the phone.

Sky is the Limit

San Tan Valley, Arizona – The Pinal County Attorney’s Office in partnership with the Florence Unified School District, United Way, Compassion Care Center, Girl Scouts USA, and Pappas Kids Schoolhouse Foundation was proud to host more than 35 sixth to eighth-grade girls and their mothers at Poston Butte Highschool to take part in this years’ “Sky is the Limit” event.

Each participant was able to spend the Saturday with their mother designing their craft journals and listening to local experts talk about issues every teen should consider. It is an event designed to open the lines of communication between teens and their parents so that everyone is better prepared to react when issues arise in their lives.

To learn more about Sky is the Limit watch this video below:

Pinal County Diversion Program reports a 13% Increase in Participation in 2019

Last year, the Pinal County Diversion program served 529 people in 2019, giving those participants a chance to work through the program as a means to avoiding a costly trial and jail time. Under this program, a defendant enters a formal agreement that includes his/her admission to the crime and the defendant’s promise to abide by all the program requirements.

Diversion typically begins before formal legal proceedings commence. Diversion benefits the State and victims by resolving cases in a promp; and efficient manner, saving both time and public funds. Additionally, defendants are more likely to successfully complete diversion programs and have lower recidivism rates than those sentenced to probation or prison.

In the program, defendants are also encouraged to give back to their communities by participating in various service projects like school supply drives for elementary and highschool kids or hygiene kit donation drives benefiting local women’s shelters.

 

To learn more about the Pinal County Diversion Program go to https://pinalcountyattorney.org/criminal-justice/diversion/

Pinal County Files Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers, Distributors, Prescribers, and Dispensers, Files in State Court for Damages to Pinal County

Pinal County—The Pinal County Attorney’s Office released the following statement related to the County filing a state court lawsuit against the opioid manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and dispensers.

“Today, Pinal County filed a lawsuit in Pinal County Superior Court seeking damages for the societal and financial harm it has suffered at the hands of those responsible for the opioid crisis—the manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and dispensers of opioids.  The County is seeking a return of taxpayer dollars lost as a result of the opioid crisis and other relief to support the residents of Pinal.

As every Pinal County resident knows, our community has suffered as a result of the crisis created by the manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and dispensers of opioids.  By filing this lawsuit, the County is making it clear that our community will not simply stand by as the residents of Pinal County suffer, and will continue to suffer, while the defendant manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and dispensers continue to profit from their sales and distribution of highly addictive drugs.

Pinal County has retained, at no expense to the County or its taxpayers, a coalition of law firms to prosecute this action on its behalf.  The litigation will be led locally by the Arizona firm of Fennemore Craig.  Lead trial counsel will be the litigation boutique law firm of Theodora Oringher PC.

The County is filing in Pinal County Superior Court, instead of in the federal courts in Cleveland, OH because the case is rooted in Arizona state law and because the County believes it is important that an Arizona jury and judge decide the facts that are unique to Pinal.  The filing alleges the following:

  • Each of the Defendants in this action engaged in an industry-wide effort to downplay the dangerous and deadly potential effects of the misuse of prescription opioids. Simply put, these Defendants put their desire for profits above the health and wellbeing of the People of Pinal County.  The County and its citizens have paid dearly as a result.
  • The Manufacturer Defendants engaged in a scheme designed to increase the number of opioid prescriptions written across the state of Arizona, specifically in Pinal County. The Defendants’ scheme was particularly well-suited to Pinal County because it is home to a multitude of economically and medically vulnerable populations that Defendants knew were uniquely predisposed to opioid addiction, including the elderly.
  • These Defendants succeeded in dramatically increasing the number of opioid prescriptions in Pinal County by (1) concealing the truth about the risk of addiction and death associated with long-term use of their products, and (2) pressuring their respective sales forces to deceive (and bribe) local physicians and other prescribers to flood Arizona—and Pinal County—with far more opioid prescriptions than were medically necessary.
  • The Distributor Defendants shipped prescription opioids throughout the country, including to addresses in Pinal County. Rather than meet their obligations under Arizona law to report suspicious orders of opioids, these Defendants willfully ignored impossibly large shipments of opioid into the County and across Arizona.  They failed to report suspicious shipments despite being under clear statutory and common law obligations to do so, and in contravention of their own internal policies and procedures.  The Distributor Defendants’ breaches of their respective reporting obligations were willful, motivated by their desire to maximize profits and were committed without consideration of the cost to Pinal County or its citizens.
  • The Prescriber Defendants manipulated their patients and facilitated the Manufacturer and Distributor Defendants’ scheme by passing out opioids discount cards to vulnerable patients, increasing patients’ opioid dosages without regard for the serious health risks and/or improperly prescribing opioids in violation of applicable Arizona laws and regulations.
  • The Pharmacy Defendants enabled the Manufacturer and Distributor Defendants’ scheme by improperly compounding, dispensing, selling, possessing and/or maintaining opioids in violation of applicable Arizona laws and regulations.

A link to the filing may be accessed here: Pinal County Complaint

The County and its residents are well aware of the harm we have suffered and the numerous steps the County has undertaken to mitigate that harm.  Pinal County has made great strides in its efforts to combat the opioid crisis but has suffered a significant financial burden in the process.  And the costs will keep coming for at least another generation.  It is time to get relief directly from those who created this crisis, to ease the burden on the County’s coffers and taxpayers that Pinal County has been forced to shoulder due to the malfeasance of the opioid manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and dispensers.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Pinal County Attorney’s Office will be participating in several events highlighting the effects of domestic violence in our community.

Please join us, with the Maricopa Police Department, on October 3rd for a special presentation of “23 Bruises.” A play depicting the real-life struggle of a Mesa woman to end the cycle of domestic violence in her own life.

To R.S.V.P. or for more information email nancy.larsen@pinalcountyaz.gov

Casa Grande man sentenced to 19 years for manslaughter in 2013 fatal shooting

UPDATE

FLORENCE, Ariz. (July 22, 2019) – Pinal County Superior Court Judge Patrick Gard sentenced Andrew Salazar to 19 years in prison for the manslaughter of Robert Ben DeArman III. Salazar was already serving time for a gun violation case. The manslaughter sentence will run concurrently with the gun violation case. Salazar was facing a minimum of 10.5 years and a maximum of 21 years in prison on Friday, July 19, 2019, when he received his sentence.

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FLORENCE, Ariz. (May 23, 2019) – On Wednesday, May 22, 2019, a jury found Andrew Salazar guilty of manslaughter, a class two dangerous felony.

On October 11, 2013, Robert Ben DeArman III was shot and killed at a party with friends in Florence. According to investigators, Andrew Salazar was drinking at the party for several hours. During the event, Salazar pointed a gun at the victim and shot him once in the chest, killing him. Investigators determined Salazar was intoxicated and using prescription medication when DeArman was shot.

At the time of the shooting, the defendant was a convicted felon. Salazar was also on probation and was unlawfully in possession of the firearm.

Salazar faces a mandatory minimum of ten and a half years and a maximum of 21 years for manslaughter. Salazar is expected to be sentenced on July 19th at Pinal County Superior Courthouse.

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DeArman Family Statement:

“I just have to thank you again for getting us JUSTICE yesterday. Your professionalism, determination and strength in our case gave us the verdict we’ve been waiting for for the last 6 years. I truly believe that you were sent to us by a higher power. Robert can now finally rest in peace. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Connie Hills

 

Man sentenced to 20 years for killing woman in wrong-way collision

FLORENCE, Ariz. (June 4, 2019) – Globe resident Jaeden Spurgeon, 20, was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a judge. He pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault.

  • Manslaughter, a class 2 felony
  • Aggravated Assault, a class 3 felony, endangering an officer
  • Aggravated Assault, a class 3 felony, recklessly causing an injury with a dangerous instrument

On April 10, 2017, Globe Police Department took a domestic violence report about a man who reportedly stole his girlfriend’s black SUV. When police found the SUV, Jaeden Spurgeon was driving in a parking lot. When one officer tried to approach Spurgeon’s car on foot, Spurgeon sped up and nearly hit the officer before he fled on US60. Multiple police agencies pursued Spurgeon for about 20 miles but stopped their pursuit after Spurgeon began driving the wrong-way on a divided highway for another nine miles. During that time, at least five people called 911. The defendant later admitted to police he was driving up to 100 miles per hour. When police caught up to Spurgeon, they discovered he collided with two other cars.

While Spurgeon was driving the wrong-way, he killed one woman and seriously injured her male passenger. The woman, pinned in the car, died of blunt force trauma. Another woman, driving a third car, was also involved in the collision, but was not injured.

Spurgeon pleaded guilty to manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault.   One count of aggravated assault was for intentionally putting an officer in reasonable fear of imminent physical injury. And the other aggravated assault for recklessly causing an injury with a dangerous instrument.

“We feel we have given the victims justice, but their pain continues.  The decedent’s mother told the judge that she is losing her eyesight.  Her daughter promised to help her when she went totally blind.  Now, she needs her daughter’s help, but the Defendant killed her while he was fleeing from the police.” Prosecutor Matthew Reed said.

The judge sentenced Spurgeon to the maximum 20 years in prison. Spurgeon received a twelve-year sentence for manslaughter followed by another eight years for aggravated assault. The second aggravated assault sentence of 7.5 years will run concurrently with the manslaughter charge.

Here is the Spurgeon Sentence Press Release.

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Victim Statements

“The sentence will act as a stern deterrent. It’s been two years, and I am still scared when I drive. You wonder when it will stop, but it’s just something you have to learn to live with.”

– Ana Campos, Victim

“The sentence was right.  He killed my mom.  He nearly killed me and he nearly hit that cop. Someone with a driver’s license takes on a big responsibility.  He put multiple lives in danger.  I saw his head lights coming at me and I knew he was on the wrong side of the road.  I believe he was fully aware of what he was doing. I just hope that he reflects on what he did and one day he will realize what he did to my grandma.”

– Brandon Gee, Victim

“Nobody should think the sentence was too harsh.  He was charged with second degree murder and he pleaded to manslaughter.  He was charged with ten counts and he pleaded to three.  If he went to trial on what he was charged with, he would have served a much longer sentence. The only person he cared about was himself.  He was so selfish. I’m glad the judge considered his prior contact with the law.  He is young, but he has four prior adjudications and one for a felony offence.   The judge was fair.  He considered the mitigation and the aggravation.  Any judge who considered all the aggravation would have given that sentence.”

– Karen Todd, Victim

Casa Grande Man Guilty of Manslaughter in 2013 Fatal Shooting

FLORENCE, Ariz. (May 24, 2019) – On Wednesday, May 22, 2019, a jury found Andrew Salazar guilty of manslaughter, a class two dangerous felony.

On October 11, 2013, Robert Ben De Arman III was shot and killed at a party with friends in Florence. According to investigators, Andrew Salazar was drinking at the party for several hours. During the event, Salazar pointed a gun at the victim and shot him once in the chest, killing him. Investigators determined Salazar was intoxicated and using prescription medication when De Arman was shot.

At the time of the shooting, the defendant was a convicted felon. Salazar was also on probation and was unlawfully in possession of the firearm.

Salazar faces a mandatory minimum of ten and a half years and a maximum of 21 years for manslaughter. Salazar will receive his sentence on July 19th at Pinal County Superior Courthouse.

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Family Statement of Robert Ben De Arman III:

To whom it may concern,

Our family would like to take this time to thank everyone that assisted with getting the justice that we received. This has been a long road not only for our family but also for those who have worked so hard on the case.

We would like to personally thank Sgt. James Rimmer, Vince Goddard, David Ahl, Barbara Marvel, Jesus Pacheco, Gina Ramirez and Arizona Voice for Crime Victims. Most of these individuals have been with our family since the start of all this and never once did our family feel alone or doubt that we wouldn’t get the justice that was much needed. Thank you again to all of you for your hard work and dedication.

The Family of Robert Ben De Arman III