(Phoenix, Ariz. – Sept. 27, 2007) Apache County Sheriff Brian Hounshell today pleaded guilty to Solicitation for Misuse of Public Monies, a Class 6 undesignated felony. As part of his plea agreement, he also submitted his resignation, effective Sept. 30.
Hounshell was indicted by the State Grand Jury in May 2005 on charges of misuse of public monies, fraud and theft. He agreed he will not run for or accept appointment to any public office in the future. If he violates this term of the plea agreement, any and all charges could be reinstated. He also agreed to pay up to $15,000 in restitution and will receive probation, part of which could include up to a year in jail. The length and term of his sentencing will be determined by the Court.
In 2006, the Maricopa County Superior Court dismissed the charges, citing lack of venue. The Court held at that time that the charges should have been brought before a court in Apache County. The Arizona Court of Appeals reversed the decision earlier this year, finding that the venue was proper because elements of each charge took place in Maricopa County, and the charges should not have been dismissed.
Earlier this year, Hounshell’s former top aide, Irvin Hugh Lynch, was sentenced to 30 days in the Navajo County Jail after pleading guilty and no contest to two counts of false swearing before the State Grand Jury. Both counts were misdemeanors. In 2005, Lynch told the State Grand Jury that a 2003 trip to Phoenix with Hounshell was to buy himself a new truck. In fact, the trip was taken to buy a new vehicle for Hounshell’s son. Lynch was paid overtime by the County for this trip.
Hounshell appeared before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Andrew Klein. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 10. Special Assistant Attorney General Grant Woods prosecuted this case.