The biggest Arizona corruption scandal in years is in court this week and already sordid details are coming out about how powerful politicians, a lobbyist and long time pal of Doug Ducey, a commissioner, and a shady water utility owner all took advantage of everyday people to line their own pockets.
The trial started last week and Jim Norton’s wife, Kelly Norton took the stand this weekend. Kelly Norton is accused of funneling $31,000 to Sherry Pierce, the wife of Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce. In exchange, Gary Pierce helped pass rate increases that benefited Johnson Utilities through the Corporation Commission, the state regulatory agency, prosecutors say.
According to Arizona Republic, water utility owner George Johnson allegedly turned to lobbyist Jim Norton then who had his wife Kelly Norton form a consulting firm. Then, starting in August 2011, Johnson paid $6,000 a month to Kelly Norton, who in turn paid $3,500 a month to Sherry Pierce, wife of Gary Pierce, who presided over the very body that was supposed to regulate Johnson’s businesses.
Read on for some of the most ridiculous things from the trial so far:
It’s Not Like Used Car Salesmen Aren’t Swindlers
Prosecutors allege the defendants attempted to have George Johnson buy a $350,000 property for a used car lot for the Pierces, but the deal fell through.
The Best-Laid Plans….Often Go Awry
Norton explained Wednesday how a plan was hatched over a dinner. Johnson would pay Kelly Norton’s consulting firm, which would in turn pay Sherry Pierce. She said Jim Norton directed her to send emails and create other documents to “make it look legit.”
Oh No, Not Your Second Home!
Kelly Norton said Jim Norton told her the Pierces needed money, that they were losing their second home. She said her husband was “very angry” and gave her the silent treatment until she agreed to do as she was told
Lobbying, Government Contracts, Political Schemes, Oh My
The Nortons were involved in lobbying, governmental relations and other political activities on behalf of various companies belonging to George Johnson, and that Kelly Norton will now serve as the “premier witness” against her ex-husband regarding some of those activities alleged to have been illegal.