MESA, Ariz. -- A Justice of the Peace for the Maricopa County Justice Courts in East Mesa has been cited for shoplifting, according to a spokesman for the Mesa Police Dept.
Mesa police Sgt. Steve Berry confirmed to 3TV that Markel K. Chiles, 57, was issued a citation and released on March 28.
Sgt. Berry said Chiles was in the Walmart at 1710 S. Greenfield Road at about 4 a.m. last Thursday for a few hours.
Chiles was seen on surveillance video in the store's electronics department putting a speaker for an iPod in his coat, according to Sgt. Berry. He had removed the speaker, iFrogz Boost NearField Audio Speaker, from the packaging. It sells for more than $40 inside the store.
According to Det. Berry, the citation is for a criminal misdemeanor. If found guilty, Chiles could be sentenced to 6 months in jail and fined $2,500.
The Maricopa County Justice Courts released this statement:
The Maricopa County Justice Courts became aware late this morning that East Mesa Justice of the Peace Mark Chiles was cited and released by the Mesa Police Department on shoplifting charges. On the recommendation of Presiding Judge C. Steven McMurry, Judge Chiles decided to take a leave of absence until the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct can give direction on this matter. Pro Tem Judges will assume the Bench in Judge Chiles’ absence.
Maricopa County Justice Courts spokewoman, Sheryl Rabin, all full-time Maricopa County Justices of the Peace earn a salary of $101,500 annually. The East Mesa Justice of the Peace is a full-time position.
According to the website for the Maricopa County Justice Courts, Chiles has served as Justice of the Peace for the East Mesa Justice Court since his election in November of 2006. Judge Chiles was re-elected for a second term in November of 2010.
The website also says that Chiles was born in Mesa, Ariz., graduated from Mesa High School and also attended Mesa Community College, and Arizona Central College where he studied nursing and is a graduate of the Arizona Judicial College.
Karen Clark is a legal ethics attorney who is not representing anyone in this case.
Clark told 3TV "Any kind of criminal conduct engaged by a judge or a lawyer is taken very seriously. We're part of the system of justice and judges in particular are held to higher standard."
Clark wants to remind the public Chiles hasn't had his day in court, but if found guilty it's a big deal.
"Well because they're the person who is in charge in the courtroom. They're the one who is to uphold the higher standards of our justice system. It's something they assume when they take on the robe," said Clark.
The Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct, George Riemer would not give out specific details about this case, instead told 3TV they are aware of it.
According to Sgt. Berry "He (Chiles) made statements to the fact this was one of the stupidest things he could've done."