There's a new wrinkle in the civil court case filed by four Pima County plaintiffs against the Town of Marana for abandoning a public easement.
The plaintiffs — Theresa Chamberlain, Steven Blomquist, Sharyl Cummings and Timothy Blowers — have asked Superior Court Judge Ted B. Borek for "severe sanctions" against Marana for engaging in what their motion called "three overt acts against Mr. (Denis) Boaro, a witness in this case."
Boaro is the former general manager of McClintock's restaurant at Saguaro Ranch, and recently gave a deposition in the case.
According to the motion, "First, they (Marana officials) have apparently approached the Pima County Prosecutor and asked the prosecutor to open a perjury investigation against this witness, a California resident. Second, they have gone to the media and publicly announced that they have asked the prosecutor to levy criminal perjury charges against this witness. Third, they have publicly branded him a liar."
Stephen M. Weeks of Weeks & Laird PLLC, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said the motion was triggered by the town's statements to the press.
"They've poisoned the well," he said. "We have witnesses who are subpoenaed and will give deposition testimony, and they (Marana) go out to the press and say, effectively, if you testify the same way Boaro does, we're going to try you for perjury."
The other witnesses are former employees of Saguaro Ranch and a lobbying group, Weeks said.
Frank Cassidy, Marana town attorney, said the sanction motion "is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, as far as I'm concerned. It's based mostly on the contention that we've spoken to the press, which we've done in response to the other side sending out material to the press."
Cassidy noted it was "an e-mail blast from Theresa Chamberlain," one of the plaintiffs, that resulted in the media running stories about the Boaro deposition.
"It's not accurate that we're out there beating the bushes, trying to get our message out to the press," Cassidy said. "We are being contacted by the press and are responding as we should do. It doesn't make sense that we would allow allegations that are scandalous in nature to go without a response."
David Berkman, chief criminal deputy county attorney for Pima County, acknowledged that his office received "some documentation from deputy town attorney Jane Fairall regarding opening a perjury investigation against Boaro.
"We sent the whole package back to Marana and said they can do what they want with it," Berkman said. "We have a conflict because someone in our office offered opinions during the easement issue. We also have a conflict in the trespass case they sent to us, but we've filed a motion to withdraw from it."
Berkman noted that to be fair to both sides in the Marana civil case, his office "felt it would be in the best interests of everyone for us to recuse ourselves and that's what we did. The Pima County attorney's office is not getting involved in the perjury investigation."
Cassidy pointed out that after he read the sanctions motion filed by the plaintiffs, "I saw where Mr. Boaro already is recanting his testimony, in the e-mail he sent to Mr. Weeks, where Mr. Boaro acknowledges he may have gotten some of the names wrong."
In a Feb. 5 e-mail from Boaro to Weeks, included as an exhibit in the sanctions motion, Boaro notes, "I might was (sic) wrong with a few names, thinking after the words, but I spoke the true (sic) of my knowledge."
In light of that, Cassidy added, "We may rethink whether or not to pursue that (the perjury investigation)."