State mine inspector indicted on fraud, theft charges

State mine inspector indicted on fraud, theft charges

A state grand jury returned a 9-count felony indictment today against Arizona Mine Inspector Doug Martin, accusing the state’s longest-serving elected official of thousands of dollars in fraud, theft and violations of state purchasing procedures.

Martin is the third top elected official to face criminal charges in Arizona this year. Last week, former state Treasurer David Petersen was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and required to pay a $4,500 fine for failing to report on a public-disclosure form income he had earned from a character-education non-profit group.

In November, Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools Sandra Dowling was indicted on 25 felony charges, from theft to bid rigging and conflict of interest.

The bulk of Martin’ 6-page indictment alleges that he improperly acquired vehicles for his office and attempted to cover up the purchases. Thursday’s turn of events is the latest in what has been a tumultuous end to Martin’s 18-year career as head of the state agency that oversees the safety of mines across Arizona.

Martin, who has reached his term limit and leaves office at the end of the year, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all charges. He was unavailable for comment, but his assistant, Kerry Ugalde said Martin “intends to plead not guilty to the charges.”

Those charges include three counts of theft, three counts of fraud and three counts of procurement code fraud.

The indictment alleges that, between September 2004 and March 2006, Martin, 67, exceeded his authority on numerous occasions as he traded in and leased new vehicles for his office’s fleet.

In January 2006, for example, the indictment alleges that Martin traded in a 1999 Chevrolet Astro Van and two 2001 models for $6,500 toward the lease purchase of two 2006 Ford Explorers. In March, he did the same when he traded in a 2000 Dodge Caravan for $1,500 toward the lease-purchase of a Ford F-150 4×4 Supercab.

The sale or purchase of such vehicles should have gone through government agencies or the state’s Fleet Management Office under the Department of Administration. But the indictment says Martin misrepresented to the Ford dealer that he had authority to enter into the vehicle agreements and then fooled the state into making the monthly payments. His deception, according to the charges, included:

Ӣ Failure to record the new vehicles as capital assets, which would have flagged them for the Department of Administration.

Ӣ Failure to notify the state General Accounting Office of the new vehicles.

”¢ Representing to the Ford dealer that the payments would be made through the state’s general fund, when instead Martin was aware that the payments would be made through federal grants to his office.

”¢ Having an employee of the mining inspector’s office wrongly certify for the state on monthly lease payments that the transaction had been legal and appropriate.

Ugalde noted that Martin never personally benefited from any of the vehicle transactions, though the indictment notes his donation of a 2002 Chevrolet Astro Van from his office’s fleet to the Arizona Mine Emergency Association, a private group for which Martin was director and treasurer.

Martin never intended to violate state purchasing rules, Ugalde said. She explained the violations by noting that during Martin’s long tenure he has worked with a number of different heads of the Department of Administration, and the policies and procedures often shifted from director to director.

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