Carli Moncher, former Flagstaff Police Department officer and expert witness for Northern Arizona Healthcare’s Safe Child Center, will be sentenced on Friday for perjury and theft of between $4,000 and $25,000.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety headed the investigation that led to Moncher pleading guilty to theft by allegedly falsifying her reports to the Safe Child Center and the courthouses at which she worked, essentially allowing her to be paid twice for one job. According to the indictment, the compensation she received from NAH while doing private work totaled $8,148.15.
In some cases, she allegedly forged official subpoenas to support her employer's expense and travel reimbursements, according to the Department of Public Safety’s general report. Moncher also pleaded guilty to perjury for misleading the courts about the source of her income.
Expert witnesses are employed to explain specialized facts to the courts that might not be common knowledge. Moncher was employed to testify in cases involving children, including cases of child abuse, for the Safe Child Center.
A comparison of the original indictment with her plea deal shows that 22 of Moncher’s original 24 charges were dropped during plea negotiations with Arizona assistant attorney general Todd Lawson. The charges that were dropped include one count of fraud, one count of perjury and 20 counts of forgery.
Moncher pleaded guilty to one count each of theft and perjury, which means she could receive anywhere from 1 to 5 years in prison. While plea deals commonly result in a reduction of jail time, the former cop and expert witness’s original 24 charges could have resulted with anywhere from 27 to more than 103 years in prison if she was given an aggravated sentence.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office did not want to comment before sentencing on Friday. Without the office's comment, it is hard to nail down exactly what caused them to drop the charges, according to Ryan Stevens, a Flagstaff attorney with Griffins and Stevens Law Firm who is not involved in this case.
“There are two sides to her experience,” Stevens said. “As a person of importance who testified in significant trials who is employed to do those types of interviews with children, this is high-level work. You could look at this as aggravated, as someone who is trained and who should never tell lies [on the stand].”
In a pre-sentence report, Moncher said she suffered from Cushing’s syndrome, and said it can be fatal without medication. She took seven types of medication a day and was on Social Security disability.
The same report revealed that Moncher will make a comment to the court through her attorney at sentencing.
Given her stance as an expert witness, her perjury charge is especially thorny. Attorneys of the cases in which Moncher testified may utilize her perjury plea to try to appeal or overturn convictions. The success of that strategy depends on how important the evidence, or in this case Moncher’s testimony, was to the conviction.
“As you can probably imagine, [the question] would need to be reviewed by an appellate council on a case-by-case basis,” Stevens said. “If she testified at a trial, her testimony needs to be reviewed with a critical eye as to whether any dishonesty could have affected the jury or affected the evidence.”
Moncher has testified in cases in multiple northern Arizona counties, including Coconino, and in federal courts, according to the report from the Department of Public Safety.
Moncher was fired in April 2017 when Northern Arizona Healthcare confronted her with evidence due to her “violation of Northern Arizona Healthcare’s ethical standards and unprofessional conduct,” according to a letter from NAH given to the Arizona Daily Sun. In response to the upcoming sentencing, Trista MacVittie, NAH director of communications, said that they invest time into mentoring their colleagues and are thankful for the Department of Public Safety and Attorney General's Office's work.
“Northern Arizona Healthcare is grieved by the conduct of our former employee, Carli Moncher,” MacVittie said in an email.
Matthew Long, Moncher's attorney, did not respond to requests for comment.
Scott Buffon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @scottbuffon or by phone at (928) 556-2250.