County Fraud Case Set For Trial

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Former Gila County Assistant Finance Director, Linda Noriega, who was indicted last year on 13 felony counts including misuse of public monies, fraudulent schemes, theft and money laundering, is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 14. She will appear in Globe before Maricopa County Judge David R. Cole.


Noriega's defense attorney, Jeffrey F. Arbetman, has filed a motion to suppress evidence found in the assistant finance director's office after Noriega was fired. Investigators reportedly found nine vouchers totaling $2,000 in Noriega's desk. Arbetman's motion to suppress that evidence will be heard Jan. 19.


Noriega, a Gila County employee for 19 years, was fired from her position as assistant finance director Dec. 15, 1997, because she allegedly siphoned money out of a county travel advance fund and wrote a duplicate paycheck to herself.


Noriega also was indicted on two charges in April 1998 involving payroll checks totaling more than $2,000.


She allegedly misused her position with the county to obtain funds she wasn't entitled to, prosecuting attorney Jack Williams said.


Noriega also faces two counts of perjury involving statements she made Dec. 1, 1995, Dec. 31, 1996, and between Jan. 1 and Nov. 26, 1997. Williams would not elaborate Tuesday on the circumstances surrounding those charges.


Williams, a Graham County Attorney, replaced Gila County Attorney Jerry DeRose in November because DeRose represented Noriega in a divorce case several years ago.


The court removed DeRose due to the appearance of a conflict of interest, Williams said. "There was not an actual conflict of interest."


Noriega was never taken into custody and remains free.

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