Cave Creek Vice Mayor and Rose Law Group attorney, Adam Trenk, changes homes over suspicions of foul play

Adam Trenk aboard his horse that died mysteriously.
Adam Trenk aboard his horse that died mysteriously.

By Philip Haldiman  | The Republic |

(RLGR Editor’s note: Adam Trenk is a Rose Law Group attorney)

A Cave Creek councilman has decided to move out of his home after suspicious activities that happened during the election season this year.

Vice Mayor Adam Trenk said events occurred during those spring months that left he and his wife fearing for their safety.

Now, they’ve moved to a different part of town after living at his previous home for only one year.

“It was a major distraction in my daily life, one in which I was constantly looking over my shoulder,” Trenk said. “I don’t want to point the finger at anybody, but it’s been a grave cause of concern for me.”

Trenk was one of three councilmen elected outright in the town’s primary election March 12. The runoff was decided May 21, to complete the newly seated council, which later selected him as the vice mayor.

The campaign included unprecedented spending, battles over the town manager’s influence and scathing editorials from a local newspaper that many candidates felt unfairly favored the incum­bents over a slate of newcomers.

The campaign saw at least two lawsuits, including one that challenged Trenk’s residency status, which eventually was affirmed by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge.

The outcome saw newcomers tilt the balance on the council, resulting in the immediate ouster of Town Manager Usama Abujbarah, which could also lead to litigation based on the process by which he was fired.

From April to May this year, Trenk said he encountered a handful of strange occurrences that ran the gamut from the death of one of his animals to the endangerment of his life.

According to a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office report, the instances include, in chronological order:

  • April: Animals were let loose at Trenk’s rental property, in Cave Creek, where the tenants have three dogs and three horses. They were let out on at least three occasions. Trenk said whoever did it was likely targeting him.
  • May 10: Trenk said the rear differential of his truck was drained of lubricant, causing catastrophic failure to his new automobile. He said the missing plug from the rear differential aroused serious suspicion. This caused it to overheat, lock up and nearly swerve out of control while Trenk was driving about 65 mph southbound on Loop 101 toward Loop 202.

A Scottsdale mechanic’s invoice details that Trenk had his truck serviced four days earlier, which included a check of the differential fluid, according to the report.

“The lack of lubrication caused the gears in the rear differential to seize. I began to skid and in a panic hit the gas, which blew out the connection between the differential and the drive shaft,” he said. “I could have been killed. In fact, the first thing I did after contacting my wife was to contact Lt. Burden (sheriff’s deputy) to tell him I thought someone was trying to kill me.”

Sheriff’s officials said there was nothing at Trenk’s home to confirm or deny the theory that someone might have extracted the fluid, causing the damage.

However, a report by RSR Engineering commissioned by Trenk concluded that, “as there are no evidence of lubricant leaks around the rear axle, the most likely scenario is that either the lubricant was never installed by the factory or it was removed from the vehicle at some point prior to the failure.”

  • May 15: Five days after the differential failed, a cartoon was published in the
  • Sonoran News depicting a swastika with the caption, “Once off your driveway, you’re in the land of the enemy! Drive with care!”

When he saw the cartoon, Trenk, who is of Jewish descent, said he began considering a move to a new home.

Bil Canfield, cartoon artist for the Sonoran News , said the cartoon was not meant to be anti-Semitic, but instead came out of his fear of driving and a past car accident.

“Every time I’m on the road, there seems to be a risk to me — thus the cartoon,” Canfield said.

Since World War II, the swastika has had a single meaning, Trenk said, and to use it as a “metaphor for unsafe driving conditions is laughable.”

The cartoon was documented in county sheriff’s reports about the incidents involving Trenk.

  • May 27: The unexpected death of one of Trenk’s horses capped the string of mysterious instances.

The horse took ill around May 20, after the publication of a letter to the editor, printed on the same page as the earlier- mentioned cartoon, which publicly revealed who had been caring for Trenk’s horses at the time.

He said the horse went into a toxic shock and died despite four days of treatment at a vet clinic. Trenk suspects the horse, one of four of his being boarded by a friend at the time, was poisoned. However, postmortem blood tests came back negative for about 30 chemical substances, he said. He said the horse had a very easily identifiable coat pattern and Trenk had ridden him in parades several times over the years, including the town’s signature events, Wild West Days and Fiesta Days.

“There are hundreds of things that could poison a horse and we obviously could not test for them all. So, the short version is, we do not know why he died,” he said. “But I suspect he was deliberately poisoned, considering he got sick just days after the (letter to the editor) stating I kept my horses at (my friend’s house) that ran under the swastika cartoon.”

As each of these events occurred, Trenk said he immediately reported them to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated over months.

Brandon Jones, a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said the sheriff’s office has closed the case with no evidence of foul play. But Trenk has said that those months after his election were significant enough for he and his wife to lose their sense of security and find another place to live.

He relocated about eight weeks ago.

“When the swastika was published, it became clear to me that the string of unfortunate events we were experiencing might be more than just coincidences,” Trenk said.

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