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Other Family Advocacy Centers have logos for their communications. Now Maricopa FAC wants local artists to create one, too.

Maricopa Police Department wants the community’s help in creating a logo for its new Family Advocacy Center.

In the planning stages since 2015, the FAC will be a place where victims of domestic violence and sexual assault can receive care and assistance. It will also be an initiatory venue for investigations into such assaults.

Community Programs Manager Mary Witkofski said FAC is reaching out to Maricopa artists to design a logo that will be used on letterhead, the website and inside the facility.

“We would like them to use the colors of the organization,” she said.

Those symbolic colors include purple for domestic violence, teal for sexual abuse, blue for child abuse and green for safety. The design needs to represent the consortium of organizations providing help: law enforcement, prosecutors, child safety workers and others. The logo should also be gender-neutral.

Deadline to submit a design is April 6. Entries should be sent in PDF form to VAPS@Maricopa-az.gov.

A FAC steering committee will review the entries in May. The winner will be announced June 1.

The Family Advocacy Center will serve all ages. Stakeholders include Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, Casa Grande Police, Ak-Chin Indian Community, Community Alliance Against Family Abuse, Bloom365, First Things First, Department of Child Safety and many others.

The care incudes medical examinations and care, mental health care through MPD and Cenpatico, legal advocacy, case management, crisis advocacy and support groups. It has a Maricopa location that is being refurbished to fit the needs of the center.

Brandon Gray. (PCSO photo)

 

A Maricopa man was arrested Feb. 1 on charges of kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly holding a woman against her will and threatening her with a knife at her Mesa apartment Jan. 22.

Brandon Gray, 28, is accused of forcing his ex-girlfriend to restrain herself with zip-ties while holding her at knifepoint, according to a Mesa Police report.

The victim returned home from work to find Gray waiting at her apartment, where he allegedly threatened her while confronting her about text messages and pictures he had found on her phone, the report says.

Gray was responsible for babysitting their kids while the victim was at work, but instead Gray allegedly took the children to a relative’s house in Maricopa and then returned to the Mesa apartment and confronted the victim. 

The report says Gray pulled a knife from his hoodie and told the victim to get on her knees and instructed her to put zip-ties around her wrists. The victim pretended to struggle with the zip-ties for long enough that Gray became frustrated and told her to “forget it.”

After spending what she said was more than an hour on her knees, the victim asked to use the restroom. While in the bathroom the victim claims she could see Gray through the open door putting on blue latex gloves and then garden gloves over them.

Gray then allegedly entered the bathroom with the gloves on his hands and attempted to reconcile with the victim, the report says. Fearing for her life, the victim agreed to reconcile, she later told police.     

Using the victim’s car, Gray then drove the victim toward Maricopa to retrieve their children, according to the report. The victim was able to convince Gray she needed to stop at a relative’s house on the way. While there, the victim left a note indicating the danger she was in. That relative then notified another relative, who lives in Maricopa.

While proceeding to Maricopa, the victim, still fearing for her life, also allegedly sent a text message to the second relative saying, “I want you to know I love you so much.” After realizing they were heading toward Maricopa, the victim again was able to convince Gray she need to stop at the second relative’s home to retrieve items for work.

Believing they had reconciled, Gray dropped the victim off at her relative’s Maricopa home while he went to one of his relative’s homes to pick up the children.

When Gray returned with the children, the victim convinced him to allow the children to enter the home to visit with the relative. While he waited in the car, they called 911. 

The Mesa Police report states Maricopa Police responded and initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle Gray was in. Gray allegedly admitted to some of details as the victim described, but claims he did not threaten the victim nor force her to her knees and order her to restrain herself with zip-ties.

A “consent” search of the vehicle was conducted, and a Walmart bag was found containing a buck knife, wrapper to a roll of duct tape, blue latex gloves and black zip ties. Gray alegedly admitted the items were his and but that he intended to use the items to “hang clothing in his car and to make repairs on his car.”

Gray allegedly further admitted to having the knife in his pocket while confronting the victim about the text messages and photos.

However, the Mesa Police report said, Gray was not arrested that night.

The victim and Mesa police returned to her apartment the next morning. Officers located a pair of blue latex gloves together with garden gloves, turned inside out.

The victim was able to break her lease and move out of the apartment. While moving out, the victim found a roll of black duct tape matching the brand of wrapper found in the Walmart bag, a bottle of kerosene and cedar wood chips often used to mask odors.

Based on the additional evidence found at the victim’s apartment, Mesa Police concluded they had probable cause to charge Gray with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and kidnapping.

Maricopa Police arrested Gray Feb. 2 at a home in Maricopa.

He was booked in Pinal County Adult Detention Center and later transferred to a Maricopa County Jail.

If convicted, Gray faces a presumptive sentence of 16 years in prison.

Akarsh Cholaveti. PCSO photo

The Tempe man charged with manslaughter in the October deaths of Maricopa teenagers Michael and Matthew Voss was arraigned in court Friday morning.

Akarsh Cholaveti, 26, pled not guilty to two counts of manslaughter in addition to one count of aggravated assault and three counts of endangerment in front of Judge Lawrence Wharton Jan. 26.

A grand jury indicted Cholaveti on those charges one month earlier on Dec. 27 in a Pinal County Superior Courtroom.

The grand jury accused Cholaveti of manslaughter by “recklessly causing the deaths” of the Voss brothers Oct. 29. It charged the defendant with one count of aggravated assault “by causing (another passenger) serious physical injury; a broken arm.”  The endangerment charges allege Cholaveti “recklessly endangered” three additional passengers “with a substantial risk of imminent death.”

Police in Maricopa County arrested Cholaveti on a warrant Jan. 17. The defendant later posted a $125,000 bond and was released from Pinal County custody the following day.

Cholaveti’s next day in court is March 13 at 9 a.m. for a pre-trial hearing.

Oct. 29, the Voss family was driving to their home in Thunderbird Farms from church. As they drove west on Papago Road, police said Cholaveti, driving a 2017 black Acura sedan north on Ralston Road, failed to stop at the Papago intersection and drove through the roadway, causing a rollover collision.

Michael Voss, 17, and Matthew Voss, 16, both in wheelchairs, were ejected from the family’s minivan and later died at the hospital after being airlifted from the accident.

Friends and family erected a roadside memorial soon after with candles and stones on the ground arranged in the shape of a heart. Nov. 11, Faith Baptist Church hosted a public memorial at Sequoia Pathway Academy.

Their father, Nathan Voss, declined to comment for this story, but he previously published a prayer on social media

“The 16 and 17 years we got to raise them, we got to watch them grow. And mature. And smile. Those years are so precious and memory-filled, and now those years are over. You have chosen to take them home. To bless them with new, glorious, disease-free bodies.”

Roadside memorial for the Voss brothers at the accident site. Photo by Michelle Chance

88 pounds of marijuana seized

Jorge Gonzalez is accused of trying to smuggle marijuana. PCSO photos

Pinal County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a man near Stanfield Wednesday morning on charges of smuggling roughly 88 pounds of marijuana.

Jorge Gonzalez, 32, was arrested around 6:30 a.m. on a stretch of Highway 84 between State Route 347 and Interstate 8 after deputies attempted to stop the vehicle he was in for moving violations.

PCSO spokesperson Navideh Forgahni said deputies attempted to stop the green Ford pick-up truck after it was spotted speeding and rolling through a stop sign in the area.

As the truck pulled over, Forgahni said, six passengers, including the driver, fled into the desert.

Deputies found Gonzalez hiding under a large sheet of plywood in the bed of the truck alongside several bails of marijuana.

Customs and Border Patrol later found and arrested two of the six individuals who fled, Forgahni said.

CBP did not immediately provide the identities of those arrested.

All who fled were wearing camouflage, she said, “which is an indication of human and drug smuggling.”

Earlier this month PCSO recovered 150 pounds of marijuana in a similar traffic stop where five individuals immediately fled from the scene.

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb addressed the issue in a video uploaded to social media Dec. 21, saying how, as a result of the cooler weather, this kind of crime seems to be on the rise.



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The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office spearheaded a county-wide drunk driving task force Dec. 14-17 resulting in more than 30 DUI arrests, and another 16 for various other crimes.

PCSO deputies and law enforcement from other agencies made a total of 266 contacts with drivers during the four-day period, which resulted in 14 misdemeanor DUI arrests, nine drug-related DUI arrests, two aggravated DUI arrests and one extreme DUI arrest.

These numbers indicate during the time of the taskforce, an average of 1 in 9 Pinal County drivers is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

On Dec. 15 PCSO made more than 45 contacts in Maricopa alone.

The task force also issued 39 citations county-wide for various traffic infractions and other crimes.

Law enforcement agencies all across the valley tend to increase DUI enforcement around the holidays. However, regardless of the time of year, InMaricopa.com encourages all who drink to drink responsibly and to never get behind the wheel.



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Historic photo of PCSO substation courtesy Maricopa Historical Society

Even after Maricopa incorporated in 2003, its law and order mostly came from the county sheriff and justice of the peace. In the late 1950s, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office constructed a substation and jail in Maricopa. The city contracted with PCSO for law enforcement after incorporation until it established a police department.

The substation property was then no longer used by PCSO but continued to be owned by the county. In 2012, the building was leased to F.O.R. Maricopa food bank, which remodeled it for a very different use, though the jail cells and outdoor enclosure remained, so the building’s history was quite evident.

Now the building is marked for demolition to clear a path for the State Route 347 overpass across the Union Pacific tracks.

Before the sheriff’s office had personnel in town, the primary law enforcement was a series of justices of the peace, according to local historian Pat Brock. Before the judges, the main turn-of-the-century lawman in Maricopa was actually a Southern Pacific railroad detective named John “Maricopa Slim” Powers, who took policing the whole community upon himself. His main nemeses were the many hoboes who illicitly road the rails into and out of town. He was reportedly killed by a vengeful circus clown in 1914.


This article appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Lee Trikojat (BCSO photo)

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office helped nab an online child sex predator in Florida earlier this month.

According to information released by PCSO on Wednesday, Lee Trikojat, 31, of Cocoa, Florida, was arrested for alleged online sex crimes after he contacted a PCSO special investigator who was posing as a 14-year-old girl in an online chatroom.

After discussing their age multiple times, the report says, Trikojat asked the undercover detective to “keep their relationship a secret,” and sent inappropriate pictures of himself to the detective.

The detective reached out to investigators in Florida who then, posing as a 13-year-old girl, established contact with the suspect. Trikojat was arrested after trying to meet to the supposed 13-year-old and charged with “using a computer to solicit and transmit harmful images to minors,” the report says.

The incident struck a nerve with Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb.

“Being a father, it angers me that there are people out there that want to manipulate and harm our children,” Lamb said. “No matter where they are, I’m proud our investigators are able to work with agencies across the nation to get these people off the streets.”

PCSO spokesperson Navideh Forgahni said the sheriff’s office has a special unit dedicated to tracking down and capturing online sexual predators.

Reminding parents and kids to be vigilant, she warned how manipulative online sexual predators can be.

“They’re very quick and very good at reeling these kids in,” Forgahni said. “He [Trikojat] told this child, or who he thought was a child, that they [the child] were going to get in trouble if they told anybody.”

Brevard County court documents show Trikojat was charged with “use of computer services to solicit or seduce a child” and “in state electronic transmission of harmful info to minors.” Both charges are third-degree felonies in Florida, each punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Trikojat posted a $70,000 bond and was released from Brevard County Jail on July 11.

PCSO has a history working on multiple national and international cases concerned with online sex crime against children, helping with investigations as far away as New Zealand.

Hezekiah Turner. PCSO photo

A Maricopa man was arrested on aggravated domestic violence charges June 27 after an alleged violent incident took place involving a family member.

A Maricopa Police report shows Hezekiah Turner, 20, was booked on charges of disorderly conduct and criminal damage after a verbal argument with a family member allegedly turned violent.

Turner, who in the past 15 months had been charged in three other domestic violence cases, allegedly began screaming and then punching multiple holes in the walls of a family member’s home, according to the report.

He then purportedly threw multiple items across the house, the report said, causing his family member to fear for their safety.

Upon reviewing Turner’s criminal record, police decided to additionally charge him with aggravated domestic violence, his fourth DV charge since April 2016.

“Due to Hezekiah being arrested for domestic violence more than three times in 84 months he is also charged with aggravated domestic violence, which is a Class 5 felony,” the police report stated.

In Arizona, a class 5 felony concerning repetitive dangerous offenses can result in five to eight years in prison.

Turner is being held at the Pinal County Adult Detention Center in Florence on a $2,500 bond.

 

Other Maricopa arrests:

Thomas William Clark, 67, was arrested by a Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy June 30 on multiple charges. He was taken into custody in the 50000 block of West Val Vista Road.

Charges include possession of a weapon by a prohibited person, possession of a weapon in the commission of a crime, possession of dangerous drugs for use, possession of dangerous drugs for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Mauro Padilla Jr., 33, was arrested by PCSO on July 4 at 7 p.m. on Padilla Road. He is charged with criminal damage and disorderly conduct.

Kevin Arthur Perrine Sr.

A Stanfield man was arrested on multiple charges after a fight Sunday night.

Kevin Arthur Perrine Sr., 52, was arrested on the 36000 block of West Talla Drive by a Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy at around 9:09 p.m.

He is accused of six felonies and three misdemeanors. Perrine is held in the Pinal County jail.

Felony charges include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, disorderly conduct with a weapon, criminal damage, possession of a weapon in the commission of a crime, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The misdemeanor charges include threatening with injury, assault and fighting per domestic violence.

Brent Burroff. PCSO photo

A warrant arrest attempt turned into a barricade situation in Hidden Valley Wednesday for Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

According to PCSO, a suspect was wanted for outstanding warrants for fraud and theft-related charges.

When officers arrived on scene, a property off Peters and Nall Road, the suspect went back into his RV and refused to come out, PCSO spokesperson Navideh Forghani said.

When he apparently barricaded himself in the RV, SWAT was called in, involving several law enforcement vehicles arriving in the area.

“When they got there, the suspect came out without incident. He has been arrested,” Forghani said.

Brent Burroff, 32, was taken into custody around 5 p.m. Wednesday on Cattle Drive in the Hidden Valley area, west of the intersection of Ralston Road and Peters and Nall. His total bond is set at $21,300. He faces two charges of failure to appear and noncompliance. An arraignment hearing is set for Feb. 24.

Sheriff Mark Lamb is still stocking up his office. Photo by Mason Callejas

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb sits down with InMaricopa’s Mason Callejas to talk about his first days in office, his approach to enforcement, RICO funds, border issues and the budget, and what he sees for the future of the department. One of his primary goals is improving morale.

Lamb, a Republican, defeated Kaye Dickson in November’s General Election. Born in Hilo, Hawaii, he is married with five children. He is fluent in Spanish, and his first law enforcement job was with Gila River Indian Community.

He also points out PCSO is hiring. Go to https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/pinalcounty/jobs/1631101/deputy-sheriff?keywords=deputy%20sheriff&pagetype=jobOpportunitiesJob

PCSO discovered hundreds of pounds of marijuana in a Yukon abandoned by the driver after a chase. PCSO photo

An apparently speeding vehicle led a Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy on a chase on State Route 347 Tuesday afternoon. In the end, the driver and passenger escaped but the abandoned vehicle was allegedly found to be carrying 451 pounds of marijuana.

The deputy spotted the 2002 GMC Yukon traveling at a high rate of speed south of Maricopa on SR 347 around 5:41 p.m. When he tried to pull over the vehicle, the driver did not stop and the pursuit was initiated.

After leaving the highway, the Yukon ran a stop sign and eventually stopped at the intersection of Dune Shadow Road and Hidden Valley Road. The driver and a passenger in the front seat ran west into the desert.

“As the deputy approached the vehicle to make sure it was clear, he observed several large bundles in the rear cargo area wrapped in camouflage material,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said. “The bundles contained 451 pounds of marijuana. The driver and passenger were not located.”

The vehicle and marijuana was seized and detectives will follow up on the case with the registered owner, according to PCSO.

PCSO photo
PCSO photo

The Circle K in Stanfield was robbed early Wednesday morning.

Wednesday at 2:44 a.m. the Pinal County Sheriff’s 9-1-1 Communications Center received a call from a clerk reporting that an armed robbery had just occurred at the Circle K at 36935 W. Highway 84 in Stanfield.

Two males entered the store while a third waited in the driver’s seat of a red car. The two in the store were wearing bandanas over their faces, sunglasses and hooded jackets to disguise their identities.

“The clerk had been stocking a shelf when he noticed the two suspects standing at the register area,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said. “As the clerk walked behind the counter, he observed one of the suspects exposing a handgun. The suspect said to the clerk, ‘You know what it is, Homie.’ The suspect then demanded the money from the register. The second suspect stood by as the clerk handed the gunman the money from the register.”

The men left and no one was injured.

“Video footage taken from the store shows the suspects getting out of a red four door sedan that was parked on the east side of the building,” Babeu said. “The vehicle has heavy oxidation on the roof and hood. The driver of the vehicle was observed remaining in the vehicle. When the suspects walked to the front of the store, the driver pulled out from the parking space, out of view from the camera’s range.”

If anybody recognizes the suspects involved or vehicle, they are asked to contact the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office at 520-866-5111.

stanfield-robbery-car

Fourteen people in a pickup truck were turned over to Border Patrol. PCSO photo

According to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, 14 people who entered the United States illegally from Mexico were arrested Thursday afternoon on Interstate 10. Most were found in the bed of a pickup truck.

A deputy with the PCSO K9 unit stopped the 1994 Ford pickup after allegedly observing several traffic violations near mile mark 194 on I-10.

“As the deputy approached the vehicle, he could see there was a blanket spread out covering something in the back bed of the truck,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said. “As he got closer, he observed the driver of the truck quickly climb into the backseat of the truck.”

After placing the driver in custody, the deputy pulled back the blanket and found several people lying in the truck bed. Babeu said they were wearing a “carpet shoes” to conceal tracks and had several gallon bottles of water.

A total of 14 people were in the vehicle. Babeu said all had entered the country illegally. The driver was cited for traffic violations and turned over to U.S. Border Patrol, who also took custody of the others and the pickup.

Gustavo Olivo, 17, and Arthur Eric Magana, 16, have been formally charged with the felony of first-degree murder by the Pinal County Attorney's Office. (PCSO photos)

A 20-year-old man living in an unincorporated area south of Maricopa was shot to death Nov. 7 and two teenage suspects have been indicted.

Wyatt Miller died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. He apparently knew the two teens involved.

Monday, Gustavo Olivo, 17, and Arthur Eric Magana, 16, both of Maricopa, were indicted by a grand jury on charges of first-degree murder and armed robbery. They are listed at addresses within the city limits.

PCSO was called to a residence in the 54200 block of West Cardinal Road just before 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 7. The location is a couple of miles north of Interstate 8.

The caller said somebody was shooting at her and her husband from outside the house. She then said her husband went outside to check.

When deputies arrived, said to be within minutes of being dispatched, they found Miller dead inside a 2001 Chevy truck in the front yard. He was described as having “numerous gunshot wounds.”

Two sets of shoe prints were followed to a residence in the 2300 block of South Oak Road.

“Once at the residence, the homeowner advised the two subjects ran into the back room of his home,” Sheriff Paul Babeu stated. “Deputies went inside of the residence, and the two suspects were taken into custody. The shoe prints on the suspects matched the pattern of the shoe prints at the scene. One of the suspects had blood on his shoes as well.”

Babeu said robbery appears to be the motive and the three were acquainted.

He said the investigation indicated Olivo and Magana were inside Miller’s vehicle when one of them shot Miller several times. They allegedly then stole his money and other property.

Arraignment for the juvenile suspects is scheduled for Nov. 18 at Pinal County Superior Court.

Newly promoted are (from left) Marc Miller, James Rimmer and Sergio Ochoa. (PCSO photos)

Sheriff Paul Babeu announced today the promotion of three deputies to the rank of sergeant.

With 24 deputies vying for the positions, the three candidates that rose to the top were James Rimmer, Marc Miller and Sergio Ochoa.

The three deputies were joined by colleagues and family members earlier this week at a promotion ceremony where they were officially given their stripes and oath of office by Sheriff Babeu.

Matthew J. Wix

A Maricopa man faces several charges after his arrest Monday morning.

Matthew John Wix, 23, of Maricopa, had a warrant after allegedly failing to comply with an earlier court order.

He was arrested at around 9:13 a.m. by a Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy at PCSO on suspicion of possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving under the influence of liquor, drugs or vapors. DUI with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or more, extreme DUI with BAC of .15-.20 and super extreme DUI with BAC over .20.

Wix was originally charged in November 2015 in a drug case. A warrant was issued in February. That warrant was quashed Monday.

Charges in Pinal County Superior Court are possession and use of drug paraphernalia and extreme DUI with a BAC between .15 and .19.

Two people were killed after a two-vehicle collision on Amarillo Valley Road south of Maricopa Tuesday night.

According to Pinal County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mark Clark, Elizabeth Cruz, 57, and Francisco Rendon, 63, died at the scene.

The incident happened just before 7 p.m. near the intersection with Teel Road.

Clark said Cruz and Rendon were traveling north in a Hyundai SUV when their vehicle collided with another northbound vehicle, a pickup truck, and then veered off of Amarillo Valley Road into a drainage canal. Cruz and Rendon were ejected from the SUV.

Cruz was identified from her driver’s license and was the registered owner of the SUV. Clark said the two were not married but had been together for more than 30 years and had children in common.

It is not known which of the deceased was driving the SUV. No criminal charges are expected, as it is believed to be accidental, with fault for the collision with the deceased.

There were no reported injuries to the other driver involved.

To help the family with funeral expenses, see https://www.gofundme.com/27gsquh8

Ragon Sandoval is accused of stabbing a man in Maricopa. PCSO photo

A Maricopa man is in critical condition after being stabbed in a fight Thursday, and his alleged assailant is behind bars.

The fight took place in the 49000 block of Julie Lane south of Maricopa. Pinal County Sheriff’s Office was called around 9:45 p.m. by a resident who reported a man going door-to-door asking for help.

When a deputy arrived, a resident directed him to a man lying on a porch with four serious stab wounds. As the 39-year-old victim was being treated, he told first responders he was stabbed by Ragon Thomas Sandoval, a homeless man living in the area.

Sandoval, 29, turned out to be the man who was reported going door-to-door in the neighborhood.

“Deputies located Ragon Sandoval in an abandoned shack nearby the crime scene,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said. “He claimed to have been assaulted by a group of men in the street and he stabbed one man with a knife in self-defense. The investigators were unable to substantiate an assault that justified the suspect stabbing the victim.”

Sandoval was arrested and booked into PCSO jail pending charges of aggravated assault causing injury, aggravated assuault with a deadly weapon and being a fugitive from justice. The victim was flown to a Phoenix trauma center, where he remains.