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July 17, 1997 - Tucson, Arizona

Former Assessor Lang Is Found Not Guilty Of Stealing Cameras

by Jon Burstein

Arizona Daily Star


Jurors yesterday acquitted former Pima County Assessor Alan Lang of a felony theft charge. Lang, 44, was accused of stealing $1,500 in camera equipment from an acquaintance's house last Oct. 8 after spending the night on the man's couch following a party. "He (Lang) is pleased that the jury made a decision based on evidence and not things in his past," David Alan Darby, Lang's attorney, said late yesterday. Lang, whom voters removed in 1994, did not testify at his trial. Darby did not call any witnesses in Lang's defense.

Deputy County Attorney Teresa Godoy argued no one else but Lang could have taken a $650 camera and a $860 camcorder after a gathering at contractor Rick Goldstein's house. But Darby argued that there was no evidence that Lang took the cameras. When confronted by Goldstein about the missing camera equipment, Lang even offered to pay for it, Godoy said. "He tried to buy his way out of being in trouble with the law," she said. She said the best piece of evidence that Lang stole the cameras was that he told his wife, "Those were my cameras," in the middle of a confrontation with Goldstein and Goldstein's girlfriend.

Lang's wife, Lisa, did not testify. Darby argued that everyone at Goldstein's gathering had been highly intoxicated and some of the witnesses' stories seemed unreliable. Lang offered to pay for the camera equipment because he wanted to avoid media attention and hassles, not because he took the items, Darby said.

The jury took about an hour to decide the case. Voters removed Lang from office in a recall election in November 1994, two years after he was elected. Lang's turbulent term included botched property appraisals, accusations that he carried a gun to work and an appearance on a national tabloid news show that labeled him "The Worst Boss in America." He also spent a night in jail after being arrested on domestic violence charges.


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