Former County Attorney defends Valley spice dealer

Posted at 4:35 AM, Nov 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-15 06:35:01-05

He was tough on drugs back when he was Maricopa County's top prosecutor, but things have changed: Rick Romley is making an unexpected appearance in federal court.

"I think it helped, but I don't think that's the end all," said Anthony Sarkis, convicted for selling and making Spice.

Unlike most defendants facing federal drugs charges, Sarkis had former County Attorney Rick Romley on his side.

"I know Tony, he has a good family structure, this is so unlike Tony," said Romley. It's a statement that mimics so many he prosecuted.

But Romley says standing up for his cousin's character wasn't the only reason.

"The disparity in the way they treated the other individuals, in my mind, who were more culpable and got such lenient sentence. That's just wrong," said Romley.

Romley is talking about Sarkis's co-defendants who were also busted by the DEA. The government only charged them with misdemeanors. When asked why by the judge, the prosecution said his codefendants were more cooperative and provided more information.

Sarkis's attorneys argued that the defendant offered information as well.

Romley says he knows it doesn't look great that he is standing up for someone he would have also prosecuted.

"I know, I'm County Attorney. I was tough on drugs. I worked with DEA and the FBI. But I also think that everyone always thinks that everyone thought I was fair. That I listened to them. That I believe there had to be a fairness in the system. And in this case, the judge agreed with me."

Sarkis was sentenced for five years probation.