Married detectives accused in thefts, pawning of state guns
PHOENIX (AP) — A married couple who worked as detectives, one for Arizona's social-welfare agency and other for the Phoenix Police Department, have been arrested in the alleged thefts of numerous state-owned guns and other law enforcement equipment, officials said Thursday.
The state Department of Public Safety said the arrests a day earlier stemmed from an investigation that began when 133 pieces of cut-up paper — instead of nearly $3,500 in cash that should have been there — were found in a sealed envelope in a Department of Economic Security evidence safe last November.
The DES, a large state agency that runs programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits, has law enforcement officers who conduct fraud investigations.
DES Detective Autumn Maya became a suspect because she had access to the safe and her fingerprints were found inside the envelope's flap, on its tape seal and on a sticky note inside the envelope, according to a DPS probable-cause statement filed in court.
Court records say Maya, 39, was arrested on suspicion of theft, fraud, forgery, trafficking in stolen property, money laundering and conspiracy, while her husband, Phoenix police Detective Michael Maya, 45, was arrested on suspicion of trafficking in stolen property, money laundering and conspiracy.
DES spokeswoman Tasya Peterson said the agency fired Autumn Maya on Wednesday. Sgt. Jonathan Howard, a Phoenix Police Department spokesman, said proceedings to terminate Michael Maya were underway.
A DPS press release said Autumn Maya allegedly stole the cash, "numerous firearms" and police body cameras and pawned the stolen items at Phoenix-area pawn shops.
DPS spokesman Quentin Mehr said he could not elaborate how many guns were stolen, but a DPS probable-cause statement filed in court listed at least five DES-owned guns allegedly pawned by Autumn Maya.
While the DPS press release said investigators believe Autumn Maya was the only DES employee involved in the alleged crimes, the DPS probable-cause statement said there's evidence that Michael Maya allegedly conspired with his wife to traffic in stolen state property.
The Mayas remained jailed Thursday. It's not known whether they have attorneys who could comment on the accusations.