A Wickenburg woman faces two felony charges stemming from petitions she filed last year for the recall of two members of Wickenburg Town Council.

Paula Sue Hartwell has been charged with presentment of false instrument for filing (a Class 6 felony) and forgery on a written instrument (a Class 4 felony). She has been summoned to an initial appearance in Maricopa County Superior Court on Sept. 20.

Hartwell is accused of falsely placing signatures of local people on two petitions she was circulating in 2018 – one for the recall of Councilmember Kelly Blunt and the other for recall of Councilmember Royce Kardinal. Hartwell filed the petitions with the town clerk on June 18, 2018, at which point they became public record, and were apparently reviewed by various people. As The Sun reported in 2018, Kathryne Wright was caught off guard when it came to her attention that her name and signature appeared on the petitions for both Blunt and Kardinal. At that time, two other local women also told The Sun that their signatures appeared on the petitions but they had not signed them. In addition, The Sun reported the names and signatures of two women known to have been deceased prior to creation of the petitions, but who  appeared on the petitions.

Wright reported to the Wickenburg Police Department that fraud had been committed using her name and pressed charges. The case was originally reported by WPD to the Attorney General’s Office, which handed it off to Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO), which investigated in 2018. On Aug. 29, 2018, the MCAO issued a memo, which declined prosecution of the case due to “no reasonable likelihood of conviction.” The case was reactivated with the filing of the felony charges on Aug. 20, 2019. Repeated email public records requests placed per MCAO protocol by The Sun are unanswered.

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