Trio jailed in Arizona death plot

May 15, 2002 at 4:18 PM
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PHOENIX, May 15 (UPI) -- Three men, including a jail chaplain and a convicted elderly sex offender, were in jail Wednesday for allegedly hatching a scheme to kidnap and murder the governor of Arizona and assassinate the high-profile Phoenix sheriff.

The trio was placed under arrest this week after an undercover detective met with one of the suspects who was allegedly looking to hire a hit man to carry out the diabolical plot.

Maricopa County sheriff's investigators said late Tuesday that the alleged plan involved kidnapping Gov. Jane Hull, throwing her in a car trunk, and holding her captive until she signed a pardon for 78-year-old Donald L. Cochran, who has been in the Maricopa County jail for failing to register as a sex offender. Once the pardon was signed, the governor was to be killed and buried under a tree. The scheme then called for Cochran, once free, to hire a sniper to shoot Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

It was not clear how the suspects intended to grab the governor. However, law enforcement agencies took the matter seriously despite its crackpot nature. Hull's security detail was placed on "a heightened sense of alert," according to Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve Volden.

"Every time a threat comes in, we take extra precautions," Volden told the Arizona Republic.

The other two defendants were identified as Robert G. Bradford, 68, a Mormon clergyman and suspended jail chaplain who allegedly acted as a middleman between Cochran and the third defendant, 43-year-old career criminal Danny Leo Warner. Warner's alleged task was to hire the killer and meet with the undercover officer on May 12.

Warner allegedly told the officer that he was surprised that no one had ever tried to kill Arpaio, who is known nationwide for the spartan conditions of his jails, which include housing inmates in tents pitched in the sweltering desert heat, and dragooning women into chain gangs.

"We give him what he deserves," Warner allegedly told the undercover officer in a conversation that was taped and used to obtain a search warrant.

Cochran also allegedly gave Bradford power of attorney over his bank account so that he could transfer money to Warner to use to bail himself out of the jail, if necessary, and purchase a high-powered rifle for the sniper to use.

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