An investigation into the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money from the Gila County Public Fiduciary's office has been turned over to the Arizona attorney general for prosecution.
Former Gila County Attorney Jerry DeRose began the investigation in January 2000, when money was discovered missing from the public fiduciary's account.
The public fiduciary is the appointed trustee of wards of the state people who can no longer care for themselves, either due to mental or physical illness, Gila County Attorney Jim Hazel said.
"Their property and their finances come under the control of the state, and (the public fiduciary) manages it," he said.
When the investigation began, Rita Corbin, formerly of Globe, was the public fiduciary. She has since resigned and is now living in Phoenix.
The total amount of money missing from the public fiduciary's office hasn't been determined, Hazel said.
"There were several figures being bandied about, but we know that it was hundreds of thousands of dollars," he said.
Michael Cudahy, chief criminal deputy for the Arizona Attorney General's office will prosecute the case.
"The grand jury will determine exactly who the suspects are in this case," Hazel said. "When the case is presented to the grand jury, the grand jury says who it wants to prosecute. I wouldn't want to limit what it does by saying it was this person or that person."
Despite the alleged theft, the county attorney said none of the residents in the county's care were affected.
The county's insurance carrier reimbursed the missing funds, so residents didn't suffer any personal losses, he said.
When Hazel defeated DeRose in November for the office of county attorney, he turned the case over to his chief deputy, Dennis McCarthy.
Since then, officials discovered that an employee of the county attorney's office also was a victim in the case, and therefore sought outside counsel for prosecution.
The Arizona Attorney General's office is expected to present the case to a grand jury within 90 days, Hazel said.