Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
Mission Pals in trouble for Land deals (Supervisor Stapley insists he's done no wrong)
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 8Nov99 D2
By Edythe Jensen and Mike McCloy: The Arizona Republic
A three-year investigation into the possible illegal land-splitting
deal among two former missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints has targeted Don Stapley, currently Maricopa County
Supervisor, and Duke Coley and Wilford Cardon. The three have been
"Wilford Cardon introduced me to Duke Cowley years and years and years
ago," Stapley said. "I was aware that they had a lot of holdings in
real estate together. Wilford Cardon and Duke Cowley....were missionary
companions, Mormon missionaries....in, I think, 1960 in Sao Paulo,
Recent records released by the Attorney General's office show that
Stapley and friends carved up 200 acres on the fringes of Maricopa
County's Santan Regional Park. State law limits unregulated division
of parcels into no more than five smaller lots. Last month The Arizona
Republic filed a lawsuit against the Department of Real Estate.
Marlan Walker, Stapley's attorney said," I think they got Don in a bad
situation because of old friendships." Records show that Stapley stood
to make nearly $l00,00 profit on a $40,000 investment. It also showed
that Cowley and Cardon played significant roles in buying and selling
land deals under several partnerships and family names.
Last year Stapley traded l5 acres to Arizona Sun Holding Inc. which
resulted in his obtaining a luxury home in Phoenix with a $250,000
mortgage. Susan Lagerman, Assisstant Attorney General, told him in an
interview, "You did order eight surveys. You had releases on eight
pieces that you did own."
The state investigation will determine whether he violated the law by
"acting in concert" with Cowley, his daughter and others who divided up
200 acres along dirt roads in the foothills of the Santan Mountains.
"Honestly, I didn't know that they had purchased 200 acres," Stapley
said. "I didn't know how much property there was. I didn't ask. That
may sound unusual, but I just, honestly, wasn't interested." Stapley
told investigators that Cowley might have been splitting up the land in
cooperation with the Cardon family of Mesa although Cowley held no
interest in the property.
"They have so many properties and so many businesses and so many real
estate holdings...it all comes out in the wash," Stapley said. "I don't
know for a fact that they trade interest...but it's easy to do when
you've got that many things going on."
Jacqueline Buck, an employee of Cowley's, indicated that she acted as
an intermediaary to put buyers and sellers together, but evidence shows
otherwise. Her name appears on dozens of real estate documents, and she
has indicated she would be able to implicate her boss and his
Stapley told investigators that he agreed to act as a "straw buyer" to
purchase property. "Duke asked me to be a straw man on this." The
company listed was the same address as Stapley's office. Two address
were used for several individuals and entities. On at least one
occasion, Stapley's Arroyo partnership used Cowley's business address.
Three years ago, the department of Real Estate offered a deal that
would require Sapley to pay a fine and attend classes on illegal
subdividing. He refused to settle. The statute of limitations has
passed on prosecuting the land splits. The limit is five years and the
Stapley deals began in 1995.