Village Voice Media Executives Arrested for Phoenix New Times Story

october 19, 2007  08:12 am
When New Times published a story yesterday revealing that it was the target of a grand jury probe, it acknowledged that it was exposing itself to potential criminal charges. It sure didn't take long for those charges to come to fruition. The co-authors of the piece, VVM executive editor Michael Lacey and chief executive Jim Larkin, were arrested last night at their homes in Phoenix on charges that the story revealed grand jury secrets, according to the New York Times. The East Valley Tribune reports that the arrests came at the request of the special prosecutor. "It is an extraordinary sequence of events," says Steve Suskin, legal counsel for VVM. "The arrests were not totally unexpected, but they represent an act of revenge and a vindictive response on the part of an out of control sheriff." In addition, New Times reporter Ray Stern was given a criminal citation on Thursday for disorderly conduct after an argument over taking photos of public records at the sheriff's office. "They're trying to muzzle us," editor Rick Barrs says. "This is retaliation against us. And it's not just retaliation against us, it's retaliation against the press." UPDATE: Lacey, upon being released from jail this morning, spoke with reporters. "The way that this operates is that they select someone to make an example out of, and they selected our organization," he says. "Hopefully, other media organizations will begin to speak up and speak out about what's going on here."