The Phoenix special prosecutor in a case that landed two top newspaper executives in jail denied wrongdoing after the chief prosecutor dismissed the case. Attorney Dennis Wilenchik was fired Friday as chief of a criminal investigation involving Phoenix New Times and received a public dressing-down from Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. Wilenchik had made “serious missteps” and “badly mishandled” the case, Thomas said. Wilenchik said the case has been “hysterically and falsely reported” in the media, reports the Arizona Republic.
Wilenchik said he had subpoenaed names of those who have accessed the New Times Web site since 2004 to prove whether Sheriff Joe Arpaio was “endangered or [in] imminent threat of danger” as a result of the newspaper’s publishing his home address in print and on the Internet. Wilenchik said New Times “grossly and wantonly and purposefully violated this court” by airing the details of the grand-jury subpoena and are “pandering” to the press and the public with disinformation. Wilenchik is under investigation by the State Bar of Arizona. Complaints allege he acted unethically by asking an intermediary to arrange a meeting with the judge overseeing the grand jury in the New Times case.