Crucial email not protected by marriage privilege, judge rules in bribery case

Editor:  What is it about the Arizona Corporation Commission that attracts low integrity candidates who become low integrity Commissioners?  There have been a plethora of legal problems among ACC Commissioners over the past few years.  It's not looking good for Gary Pierce, former chairman of the ACC, and his wife, Sherry.  A few years ago, the Smart Meter issue was hot in Arizona.  Gary Pierce was chairman of ACC and hear from countless people about how their health began to decline when smart meters were allowed by APS.  Documented evidence was presented, such as mechanical read-outs of the radar output from these meters being much higher than reported.  One woman lived in her car in the desert because she could not inhabit her home.  Pitiful, really.  Chairman Pierce told us that he saw no problem with smart meters and he liked them because he felt his bills were lower!  Concern for the public welfare?  Not that we could see and we attended all of the hearings that year pertaining to smart meters.


Jurors will get to see what could prove a critical email that prosecutors say should help prove that Gary Pierce purposely sought to conceal a land deal at the center of a bribery case.

U.S. District Court Judge John Tuchi has rejected arguments by defense attorneys that an email between Kelly Norton and her then-husband Jim is protected by marital privilege. His ruling makes it admissible.

What makes the email significant is it originated with Pierce, who at the time was a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission. In that role he voted on several matters involving Johnson Utilities.

Federal prosecutors contend that company owner George Johnson was going to pay for Pierce to buy a 3.5-acre property he wanted in east Mesa for a car dealership. But the plan, according to the government, was to conceal the true buyer.

In a Dec. 29, 2011 email, Pierce tells Jim Norton, who was lobbying for Johnson, he is hoping the bank, which owned the property, would take $300,000 for the property. There is also a “letter of intent” to pay that much in cash, a letter signed by both Pierce and Norton.

The email, however, shows Pierce did not want to be on the document.

“I am going to have Rex take my name off this LOI and you will be the buyer,” Pierce writes to Jim Norton. The “Rex” is Rex Griswold, a vice president of a commercial property firm that was handling the offer for the would-be buyers.

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Email I should think by now since cloud based they could make an argument that the email is no longer in the domain of as a reasonable claim to privacy. We all have participated in giving away our privacy. Heck many paid for placing their DNA in databases that now the authorities search. How insane is that?

This is likely the tip of the iceberg. To find even 1% of fraud we are lucky to ever hear about it. Most go undetected and even smaller numbers are ever prosecuted because of the difficulty presented by fraud cases being all over the place with aspects few can guess and even fewer with enough evidence to prove guilt.

email was NEVER meant to be secure or private.  Nobody has ever had any reason to believe they had any claim to privacy with email. Maybe they just assumed they did. Any attempt to make it more 'secure' have undermine it's use.

How many of you use PGP encryption on your email? Any encryption for anything? If you have a browser with the right plugins, you can encrypt your emails with private/public keys. It is more secure and helps but people won't change and do it.  And any encryption can be cracked given enough time. Most of us don't send stuff via email if there is any privacy concerns.

Then the government will become involved, much like the cell phone/computer backdoor.  An IBM'er and I wrote an encryption routine for internal communications via the local Intranet in a large financial business.  This had an air gap to isolate it from the Internet. The government made us lower the bit count of the key so they could break it within a certain time period.

If you don't want it written in stone and here for eternity, don't put it on the Internet, especially in 'the cloud.'



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