Katie Hobbs accused of receiving Sinaloa cartel bribes

"Katie Hobbs and Runbeck election services have been named as recipients of Sinaloa cartel bribes via deeds of trust and phony mortgages in AZ senate investigation."

A California-based law firm has accused Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, Runbeck Election Services, and a slew of other election officials, mayors, judges, city councilman, and county supervisors in the state of receiving bribes from the Sinaloa cartel.

During a Thursday hearing before the Senate Elections and Municipal Oversight & Elections Joint Committee, the principal investigator for Harris/Thaler Law Corporation, Jacqueline Breger, presented their shocking findings, detailing how a money-laundering investigation in the midwest revealed alleged corruption in Arizona.

"In 2006, the U.S. Attorney's Offices in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa investigated the laundering of drug cartel monies through a complex series of single-family home purchases in those states," Breger told the committee. "By 2009, numerous real estate agents, escrow companies and title insurers had been indicted, charged and convicted of racketeering. In 2014, our office was asked to review the case files and to determine whether monies from the sales of the properties had filtered to property purchases in Arizona, specifically in Maricopa and Pima County."

The Sinaloa cartel is notorious for being led by the infamous "El Chapo," the Mexican drug lord whose real name is Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, who was widely considered to have been one of the most powerful drug traffickers in the world before his capture in 2016.

According to the investigator, it was concluded that several real estate agents in Iowa "had set up a laundering system in Arizona and thereafter had transferred the proceeds of sales to Panamanian Corporations."

"In 2018, Mr. Thaler discovered, incidental to another matter, a series of trust deeds evidencing that cash laundering through single family residences in Arizona was pervasive and ongoing," Breger continued. "With that, a new investigation began with the focus being on money laundering and related racketeering activities in Maricopa County and several other Arizona counties. The Harris/Thaler office currently represents several parties directly damaged by the racketeering activities."

In the nearly 100-page report, Breger dug into the entire investigation, naming Dawna Rae Chavez, a resident of Mesa, Arizona, and her daughter, Brittany Rae Chavez, as "principal preparers of the documents necessary to effect the racketeering enterprises."

"To date, more than 10,000 falsified documents have been recorded with the Maricopa County Recorder. We estimate that more than 35,000 warranty deeds/trust deeds evidencing fraudulent transactions exist in the database. 11. The number of falsified notarizations exceeds 15,000.  12. Dawna and Brittany's participation in racketeering activities also includes facilitation of bribes to public officials, tax evasion, payroll theft, bankruptcy fraud, insurance fraud, and extortion," Breger said. 

The money funneled from false house deeds in midwestern states back to Arizona, went to politicians and election officials, according to the investigators. The election fraud has been going on since 2004, Breger alleged.

"Since 2004, elections within Pima County and Maricopa County have been manipulated through infiltration of the county databases resulting from bribes paid to executives at election service providers including, but not limited to, principals of Runbeck Election Services," she said. "In addition to impacting local elections, bribes and infiltration were used to affect the outcome of the races during the November 3, 2020 election, including the outcome of the race for Maricopa County Recorder, and the outcome of the November 8, 2022 election (race for Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General)."

Breger continued, saying that the public officials who have received bribes include "multiple state office holders (State House/State Senate), local office holders, county supervisors, judges of the Maricopa County Superior Court, judges of several city courts (including two presiding judges), judge's assistants, prosecutors within certain cities within Maricopa County, prosecutors for Maricopa County, peripheral legal specialists including attorneys, 'approved' mental healthcare providers (court appointed advisors) and related specialists."

"In the Superior Courts for Maricopa County, Pinal County and Pima County, at least 25 percent of the active judges have accepted bribes in exchange for protecting the racketeering activities," Breger said.

On page 85 of the report, the list of Arizona officials who allegedly have falsified deeds in the purported money laundering scheme include 40 names, notably including Gov. Hobbs, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, Sen. Krysten Sinema, Rep. Ruben Gallego, Mesa Mayor John Giles, Arizona Speaker of the House Ben Toma, as well as Maricopa County Supervisors Bill Gates, Thomas Galvin, and Clint Hickman. 

"This list comprises individuals where investigation has been completed. Additional officials including judges and election officials for Maricopa County and spouses are currently implicated by the evidence obtained to date," the report notes.

Breger is currently in a relationship with John Harris Thaler, namesake of the Harris/Thaler Law Corporation, and author of the upcoming book "Report to the Governor," a story detailing the alleged corruption of the cartels have gone to keep it going, including the "abduction" of his young son. He fathered that son with Brittany Rae Chavez, a cartel associate, though Thaler reports at the time he did not know she was involved in the cartel.

"On September 19, 2020, McKinley Harris Thaler, nearly three years old, was abducted. The abduction was intended to extort his dad into terminating a multistate investigation concerning money laundering and public corruption," the book's abstract reads. "To date, neither McKinley's dad nor dad's family members have seen McKinley or received any communication from him. Dad does not know where his son is."

The summary went on to say that Thaler was retained to dig into the alleged corruption in Arizona in 2019, and his "star witness" was his wife of three years, Brittany, who he says he married without knowledge of her participation in the "largest money laundering scheme in U.S. history."

"Thaler had no idea that Brittany had known him since 2011 and had been paid to create an extortion scheme against him to disrupt an earlier investigation into organized crime. He did not know their chance meeting in 2014 was anything but an accident; he did not know the marriage was a sham," Thaler wrote.

Though Chavez was initially cooperative in 2019, Thaler said that she was threatened by her family and the cartel which ultimately led to her disengaging from the investigative process, after which McKinley was allegedly abducted.

In a Friday interview with Lindell TV host Brannon Howse, Thaler gave more details as to how the cartel bribes impacted elections in the state of Arizona.

"So are you saying that the cartels are using their billions of dollars to buy elected officials to keep the border open, to keep their businesses going in the United States?," the host asked.

"That would be precisely what I'm saying," Thaler responded.

"The election fraud comes in [to this] in several different ways. When you have elected and appointed officials who have these kinds of racketeering documents, one of the things we look at that point is where is this coming in?," the attorney said.

He continued, saying that in Arizona, "the bribe problem is not so much about somebody bringing in a suitcase full of cash. Most of the officials who we have found who have accepted bribes, accepted them very early on. Usually at the start of their career, and oftentimes take the initial position or run for the initial office. So they are bribed, in essence, to become officials, not once they have become officials. And that creates a big problem."

According to Thaler, these officials include those who handled mail-in ballots. 

"With the 2020 election… one of the things Ms. Chavez provided…was ballots and how mail in ballots were being handled. And that led to one of our investigators discovering actual ballots about three weeks before the 2020 election that were already filled out, that were in boxes, along with cash… I believe it was something like 17 boxes of ballots… Plus three large banker boxes of cash."

"Who's paying you to do this?," Howse asked.

"That I can't tell you, clients are very confidential," Thaler replied.

When asked about the cities and counties in Arizona where this corruption allegedly took place, Thaler listed Maricopa, Pima, Yuma, and Yavapai counties, and said that the city of "Mesa is a racketeering enterprise."

"I would tell you at this point that we have police officers… we have a mayor of the city of Mesa, we have city council members, we have at least three supervisors in Maricopa County with problems, we have at least 25 percent — and it's really a much higher number but we're still running investigations on this — but about 25 percent of the judiciary in Arizona has bribery issues and racketeering issues… and then judicial assistants, and other officials such as clerks and lawyers who are directly associated with the judicial operations," Thaler said.

"We're seeing the money laundering in roughly about 20 states… the bankruptcy fraud that we uncovered with this is prevalent in at least 11 states," he added.

According to Thaler, one of the big problems uncovered in the investigation was the relationship between Rep. Toma, a Republican, and Runbeck Election Services, which handles Arizona's mail-in ballots.

"One of the problems here, and it's certainly if nothing else a gigantic ethics problem, is that the Speaker of the Arizona House Ben Toma, is directly related to the company, Runbeck Election Services, that runs the election services, including the ballots, in Maricopa County," Thaler said. "Runbeck company is run by Robert K Runback, is also run by Jeff Ellington. Mr. Ellington is also the COO of a company called Precision Arrow. Precision Arrow is a company owned by the Toma family."

Other Republicans have been implicated in the accusations, showing that Harris/Thaler Law Corporation hasn't just gone after Democrats like Hobbs. According to the lead attorney, Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, lost a "rigged" election to Republican Stephen Richer for Maricopa County Recorder.

"Richer won by approximately 6,000 votes," said Breger during the committee hearing. "This means that 50,000 individuals who voted for the Democratic ticket across the board, had to choose the Republican candidate for Recorder against an incumbent who never suffered in a scandal…. This is a planned loss. Hobbs would receive the Democratic nomination for governor and Fontes would run for secretary of state to replace Hobbs."

Many pushed back against the accusations, citing a lack of compelling evidence.


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