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Maricopa County Attorney Adel in out-of-state rehab facility, still running office

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Posted at 10:24 AM, Sep 14, 2021

Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel is currently out of state receiving in-patient treatment for alcohol use and mental health issues.

"I sought in-patient services at an in-state facility on Sunday, Aug. 29. One week later, and after several assessments, I moved to different location with the same behavioral health organization and am currently receiving treatment in California,” Adel said in a statement released by her office to ABC15 Tuesday morning.

On Friday afternoon, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office abruptly released a separate statement from the county attorney announcing that she was seeking treatment for stress, anxiety, an eating disorder and alcohol use.

Her office did not respond to questions last week about how long Adel had been in treatment.

The Arizona Republic reported the county attorney’s announcement was spurred by a call from Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone who had just learned of Adel’s multi-week absence.

In a written statement, Penzone told the Republic, “I expressed both support and concern regarding her well-being. I also questioned the appropriateness of continued influence over the office while in recovery.”

Penzone also said he advised MCAO that they needed to advise the Board of Supervisors about Adel’s circumstances.

ABC15 has reached out to MCAO for comment.

In Adel’s sudden announcement last week, she concluded by saying, “I am in daily contact with my leadership team while seeking treatment to ensure the important business of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office continues.”

Her staff also pushed back on any suggestion that she was on leave.

But Adel’s out-of-state treatment is raising concerns from other elected officials, especially given the current scandal facing her office’s role in falsely charging protesters as part of a made-up street gang.

On Twitter, state Sen. Martin Quezada wrote, “All things considered, a resignation is what's best for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and for justice in Maricopa County.”

Adel’s absence is the second for the county attorney in less than a year.

The County Attorney suffered a brain bleed following a fall in October last year. She underwent emergency surgery and was hospitalized for several weeks.

When Adel returned to work in a larger capacity in early 2021, she faced a massive scandal following an ABC15 investigation that uncovered her office colluded with Phoenix Police to falsely charge protesters with made-up crimes.

Members of Adel’s leadership team instructed prosecutors to seek gang charges against protesters.

As a result, MCAO and Phoenix Police invented a fake gang to charge the demonstrators.

An outside investigation conducted by a retired judge, who was hired by MCAO, concluded that Adel was not informed about the gang charges before they were officially filed.

However, one of the key prosecutors on the protest cases claims that Adel was aware.

Bruce Frank is a civil rights activist and was one of the people falsely arrested and charged during a Black Lives Matter protest in Phoenix.

He, along with many others, say Adel should resign from her position.

“You don't get to do the things you've done ask for the same grace you haven't given folks that's come under your help. It doesn't work that way. So it's not a nice persuasion, it's just a demand to say, hey, you probably need to step down or we're going to recall you.”

District 2 Supervisor Steve Chucri, however, says people shouldn’t jump to conclusions about Adel’s position.

I think the County Attorney needs to make the right decision for herself, her family, for this county. We are a board of government authority over Maricopa County activities. The county attorney is duly elected by the people. Let's see how this plays out, give her an opportunity to do what she believes she can do. We owe her that."

Below is the full statement released by County Attorney Allister Adel on Tuesday:

"I sought in-patient services at an in-state facility on Sunday, Aug. 29. One week later, and after several assessments, I moved to different location with the same behavioral health organization and am currently receiving treatment in California.

The focus shouldn’t be on the timing of the announcement but rather on the fact that there should be no shame in being honest about this issue.

For the first week and a half in treatment, my primary focus was just that, my treatment. I was taking guidance from a professional medical team as to when the announcement would be most appropriate based on what is best for me, my family and my recovery.

The statement was publicly released on Friday because of rumors regarding my treatment that I didn’t want to become a distraction for my office or that of county government. Out of respect, members of the Board of Supervisors were notified prior to my public statement.

As I said on Friday, I have had daily contact with my executive team and the work of the County Attorney’s Office continues."

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@ABC15.com.