Is Mecham laser-tapped?

January 22, 1988

United Press International

PHOENIX — Gov. Evan Mecham has asked the U.S. attorney to investigate the possible telephone taps at the state Department of Corrections, a newspaper reported Friday.

The Arizona Republic quoted sources as saying that Jim Armstrong and Tom Wilmeth, who share an office, told deputy director John McFarland on Tuesday that they believed DOC investigators were monitoring their conversations.

Both Wilmeth and Armstrong are appointees of Gov. Evan Mecham. Wilmeth is in charge of education for juvenile inmates and Armstrong is working on a new system for pre-release programs.

Ron Zuniga, head of DOC’s Inspections and Investigations Division, said he looked into the problem and discovered it was a misrouted telephone line.

U.S. Attorney Steve McNamee declined comment on whether Mecham has asked him to investigate.

Mecham, meanwhile, expanded on reports that he believes laser beams are being used to eavesdrop on his office.

“We have too be a little careful in the office because we have intercepted a laser beam and also some other listening devices, but we took care of that many months ago,” Mecham said at a Tucson Trade Bureau luncheon.

Because of media reports about the alleged eavesdropping, Mecham said, “we aren’t particularly concerned about it today.”

Mecham acknowledged he discussed laser eavesdropping with people sitting at his table during a Phoenix Forum breakfast meeting on Tuesday. But, he said he discussed only eavesdropping on his office, not his home.

House Majority Leader James Ratliff, R-Sun City, said Mecham told him about three weeks ago that an expert had “found evidence that there was a laser beam on the governor’s office.”

Ratliff said he resents people “making a joke” of the matter.

Two security and investigating firms told The Republic that technology exists for laser beam eavesdropping.

Bob Morgan of Morgan Investigations said “Popular Mechanics” recently published a do-it-yourself article on the subject.