PHOENIX (AP) — Former Maricopa County District Attorney Allister Adel, who recently resigned amid controversy over his performance in office, died Saturday of unspecified health complications, his family said. She was 45 years old.
Adel’s husband, David DeNitto, said in a statement released on behalf of the family that they were “completely heartbroken by this unimaginable loss.”
The family statement did not specify the cause of death, but said loved ones asked that “the press and public honor him, his legacy and our family by respecting our privacy at this difficult time.”
Adel, a Republican and Maricopa County’s first elected female prosecutor, had come under fire for issues including the dismissal of 180 misdemeanor cases because charges were not filed before statute of limitations expired.
She also came under scrutiny to find out whether a recognized alcohol abuse problem had affected her ability to do the job.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey called Adel’s death tragic.
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“The hearts and prayers of the people of Arizona go out to Allister’s family, colleagues and close friends. May she rest in peace,” Ducey tweeted.
Maricopa County District Attorney Rachel Mitchell, Adel’s acting successor, said “Adel’s many years of service to our community leaves a legacy that has impacted victims of crime, early responders and animals, to name a few”.
Adel was appointed to the office in October 2019 to fill a vacancy and she was elected to the office in November 2020.
She resigned in March, saying in a statement that winning the job had been an honor.
Adel underwent emergency surgery on election night in 2020 for a brain haemorrhage. She was back to work full time the following spring.
In August 2021, she entered rehab for alcohol abuse, an eating disorder, and other issues. In September, she confirmed she was working remotely from an out-of-state processing center.
Mitchell was among five criminal division chiefs in Adel’s office who in February questioned Adel’s ability to do her job, saying she was rarely in the office, showed signs of being intoxicated during phone calls and did not provide leadership.
Adel replied that she had no intention of quitting and that she vehemently disagreed with their characterization of her.
Adel then faced heavy criticism for dismissing the 180 misdemeanor cases which included people charged with drunk driving, domestic violence, assault and criminal damage.
Asked about the layoffs, Ducey said leaders should take responsibility for their actions and not blame their employees. Adel later apologized to the victims in those cases and said she took responsibility for what happened in her office.
Adel’s office and the Phoenix Police Department also came under fire for a later-closed gang case against protesters during an October 2020 protest against police brutality.
Lawyers hired by the city to investigate said authorities lacked credible evidence to support the claim that the protesters were members of an anti-police gang. Adel acknowledged that his office made mistakes in the case.
Adel is survived by her husband and two children.
Funeral arrangements will be released later, the family statement said.
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