Wilcox wins appeal over her $975,000 settlement

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX (AP) -- Former Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox has won an appeal over a $975,000 settlement in her lawsuit against the county for a failed criminal case made against her in late 2009.

The decision Monday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals backs up a lower court's decision that ordered the county pay to the settlement to Wilcox.

Wilcox recently resigned from her county post so she could run for the congressional seat being vacated by the retirement of U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor.

Wilcox's attorneys had worked with a mediator to reach a settlement. But some county officials disputed the deal because they contended the county administrator who set up the mediation didn't have final authority over the agreement.

Once the settlement is paid, the county will have spent $39 million to settle a political feud among county officials that led to a spate of costly lawsuits and unsuccessful public-corruption investigations against some participants in the disputes from 2006 through 2010.

The disputes between county officials and then-Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio centered on cuts to agency budgets, a plan to build a new court building complex and other issues.

The feud escalated into criminal investigations that Arpaio and Thomas launched against officials and judges who were at odds with them.

In the end, criminal cases against Wilcox, another county official and a judge were dismissed amid criticism that they were trumped up. Arpaio and Thomas contended they were trying to root out corruption in county government.

Wilcox was accused in the criminal case of voting on contracts involving a Hispanic advocacy group that had given her loans and never filing conflict-of-interest statements. A judge had ruled that Thomas had a conflict in prosecuting Wilcox and dismissed the charges against her.

Andrew Thomas' statement on the ruling:

"It's hard to say what's more outrageous: twice-indicted Wilcox receiving this payout compliments of the most liberal appeals court in the nation, or Wilcox running for Congress in a district that is racially gerrymandered. As Governor, I will work to clean up our dishonest liberal courts and make sure racial preferences are a thing of the past."

-- Andrew Thomas, Candidate for Governor

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Maricopa County to settle 2 lawsuits vs. Arpaio