Judge Bluff changes Bateman’s felony plea to misdemeanor
Former Mingus Union executive assistant on unsupervised probation for tampering with public record
CAMP VERDE – Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Michael Bluff said in March that upon successful completion of probation, Brandi Bateman’s felony could be changed to a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Monday, Judge Bluff “consider[ed] Miss Bateman’s remorse” and decided that her tampering with a public record charge should be a class 1 misdemeanor, and that Bateman should pay fines and serve 18 months of unsupervised probation.
Before Bluff announced his ruling, Bateman told the court she wanted to “express my remorse, and my desire to continue to serve my community.”
Bateman’s attorney, Jeffrey Gautreaux of Musgrove Drutz Kack and Flack PC, said “it’s not my belief that probation is even necessary.”
“I know she’s learned a lot from this,” Gautreaux said.
According to her indictment, Bateman was accused of forging a letter that was addressed to the Office of the Arizona Attorney General Civil Litigation Division and purporting it to be authored by former Mingus Union Superintendent Penny Hargrove in January 2018.
According to a Sedona Police Department report, Bateman filed a complaint against the Mingus Union School Board in October 2017, accusing board members of multiple Arizona Open Meeting Law violations.
In January 2018, the board received a registered letter from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office regarding the complaint. Bateman obtained the letter and never gave it to Hargrove or anyone else on the school board, according to the police report.
Following Monday’s ruling, former Mingus Union School Board member Steve Gesell said that the board “handled this issue professionally and without malice to include refraining from public comment as the case worked its way through the judicial system.”
“At the end of the day, this case was plead(ed) down to a misdemeanor as anticipated,” Gesell said. “In my opinion, appropriate based on the circumstances.”
The report also stated Bateman had a “strained relationship” with then-Mingus Union Superintendent Penny Hargrove at the time.
Bateman agreed that her actions were setting up the district to fail, according to the police report.
With a misdemeanor, Bateman will not be compelled to resign her duties with either the Beaver Creek School Baord or the Copper Canyon Fire Board.
Bateman is currently employed as executive assistant to Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Randy Garrison.
"I am pleased with Judge Bluff's determination," Bateman said Tuesday. "I am extremely grateful for the support from Supervisor Garrison and consider myself blessed to be his partner for this past year and moving forward. The support from family, friends and community members has been overwhelming and I consider myself fortunate."
-- Kelcie Grega contributed to this story