Scottsdale team brings back fugitives for trial

Droid Incredible by HTCFor years Scottsdale Detective Sam Bailey would get the same phone call every few months.

“Did you get ‘im yet?”

Bailey instantly recognized the voice.

The caller was a fraud victim seeking an update on his case.

In 1990, Bailey arrested Joseph Viola for defrauding about 20 victims out of $319,000. Out on bond, Viola disappeared.

Recently, Bailey, now four years retired from the force, received a phone call from Scottsdale Detective Kurt Kinsey, who told him Viola was in custody in San Francisco.

“I was amazed,” Bailey said. “He looks so much like he did 20 years ago. I guess he was just slick enough to stay under the radar.”

The Police Department extradition squad is working to bring Viola to Arizona to face trial.

For the past year, extraditions have been handled within the Police Department after the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office stopped handling cases for other police agencies. The move forced Scottsdale to put together its own team to bring back fugitives to face charges.

The department has spent about $12,000, paid from Racketeer Influenced, Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, funds, collected through asset forfeitures tied to various crimes, said Sgt. Mark Clark, a police spokesman.

A team of two detectives and a sergeant fliesaround the U.S. to bring prisoners back. So far, the teams have escorted 11 prisoners from states that include California, Indiana, Oregon and Alaska. There are five other prisoners, including Viola, in the process of returning to Arizona.

“When someone out of state is arrested on a warrant, that agency notifies us that the subject is in custody,” said Sgt. Dean Perna, who supervises the team.

The officers review the case file and talk to the original detective to get an understanding of the case.

“We check with the prosecutor’s office to verify that the person is still wanted and they want that person to be brought back,” Perna said.

If the county prosecutor’s office says yes, that starts a time-critical process in which officers have 10 days to bring back the suspect.

“We want to see these people brought to justice,” Perna said. “We’re there to do our part.”

The officers fly commercial flights and keep as low-key as possible.

“For the most part, (other passengers) aren’t aware why we’re on the flight with them,” Kinsey said.

And though aware of what the prisoner is wanted for, the team does not talk to the suspect about the case.

“We’re just there to handle the extradition. We convey to the fugitive that we’re not the investigation agent,” Kinsey said.

Not all extraditions are cold cases. The team traveled to San Diego in August to bring back Brian Black 10 days after the slaying of 18-year-old Tanya Marie Paige. He is awaiting trial on murder charges.

In Viola’s case, Scottsdale received a call from San Francisco police saying they had Giuseppe Viola, 58, in custody for fraud. The man’s fingerprints had matched him to a 1990 outstanding warrant in Scottsdale.

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