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Court records show Maricopa County prosecutors and Charles Ryan are trying to make a plea deal

By Matthew Casey
Published: Tuesday, June 13, 2023 - 7:58am
Updated: Tuesday, June 13, 2023 - 8:00am

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The former director of Arizona’s prisons faces felony gun charges stemming from a January 2022 standoff at his Tempe home.

Court records say Charles Ryan’s defense lawyer and Maricopa County prosecutors are trying to reach a plea agreement.

Two search warrant affidavits filed in January 2022 both say Charles Ryan pointed a gun at Tempe police.

But Ryan was not indicted for aggravated assault on a police officer.

“This case certainly suggests that there are two justice systems. One for the privileged and one for everyone else,” said Attorney Larry Wulkan.

If Ryan takes a plea deal on the gun charges, he’ll admit to a felony.

Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan
Alexandra Olgin/KJZZ
Charles Ryan in 2018.

But “being convicted of aggravated assault against a police officer carries with it a much more serious sentence,” said Wulkan.

A Maricopa County Attorney’s Office spokesperson would not confirm or deny plea deal negotiations. They said it is policy to not comment on open cases.

When Tempe police first told the standoff with Ryan, they wanted him charged for having allegedly pointed a gun at officers.

But Tempe police quickly softened their language and Ryan was not indicted for aggravated assault on a police officer.

The search warrant affidavits describe Ryan’s behavior.   

“He would believe that people were trying to break into their house. He would quote-unquote 'patrol' their property while intoxicated with a gun,” said Wulkan.

He added that Tempe police showed restraint by not shooting Ryan as officers would have shot most people for pointing a gun at them.

Law Enforcement