In a swift turn of fate last year, Jennifer Harrison went from chanting “Respect our laws!” at a Tucson City Council meeting to being arrested on suspicion of breaking the law against identity theft. Now, the founder of AZ Patriots has been charged in connection with that arrest.
The official complaint, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court on September 21, charges Harrison with one count of taking the identity of another, a Class 4 felony.
While the complaint offers little detail, a Surprise police department spokesperson told Phoenix New Times last year that Harrison is accused of using 45,000 of her former father-in-law’s reward points to book a hotel room in northern California to attend a music festival.
When Harrison was arrested last year she insisted she was innocent, kicked over a trash can, cursed, and refused to cooperate with police.
“Jennifer created a scene at the PD (police department) and in the booking room because she believes she is above the law and does not want to be treated like a criminal,” a document obtained by the Arizona Republic states.
Jennifer Liewer, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County prosecutors, said in an email that it took a year to charge Harrison because the case had to be sent back to police for additional information. Court records show Harrison had her first appearance last Friday.
Harrison did not respond to Twitter message seeking comment, and her lawyer, Benjamin Green, was out of the office until Wednesday.
In a post made two days after her arrest last year, Harrison said, “piranhas are circling for blood. It’s my blood they want. Thirsty bastards.” In another comment she wrote, “jealous ex husbands = bullshit charges! I cant say anything yet til I speak to my lawyer on Monday. Family drama aired all over the local news.”
Harrison and her right-wing anti-immigration group AZ Patriots have made news in recent years for their hateful antics, including dumping trash at Democratic headquarters as a “donation” for asylum seekers. Last year, her group settled a lawsuit from a group of local churches they had been harassing.
The Republic published an investigation in October exploring how “Patriot Movement AZ,” the group Harrison spun off from, became a factor in Arizona politics, including agitating against COVID-19 restrictions.
If convicted of the identity theft charge, Harrison could face a maximum of three years in prison. Her next court date is November 12.