Arizona election worker accused of stealing security device was hired despite felony theft arrest months prior

Court documents say Walter Ringfield, an Arizona election worker arrested for stealing a security fob from a tabulation center, was previously arrested.

A temporary election worker in Maricopa County, Arizona, who was captured on surveillance video allegedly stealing a “digital magnetic key” from a tabulation center last week, had been arrested just months ago for allegedly removing a total of $1,800 in cash from the register while working as a cashier at a nearby grocery store, according to court documents obtained by Fox News Digital. 

The development raises concerns about the vetting of election staffers ahead of the 2024 race. 

At a news conference on Tuesday, Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates, when pressed by a reporter, admitted that the suspect, 27-year-old Walter Ringfield, was in a felony diversion program – information that did not come up during a criminal background check conducted before he was hired as a temporary election worker. 

“We’re not going to get into the specifics of this case at this point, but we do, for all of our temporary employees, and he was a temporary employee in elections, we do a criminal background check. And when we did that criminal background check, we did not find this. He was on diversion,” Gates said. “It takes 2-3,000 temporary employees to run an election in Maricopa County. So security is very important.” 


Ringfield, of Phoenix, had been arrested on Sept. 30, 2023, at Frys Food & Drug, a grocery store chain, located on North 18th Avenue in Phoenix for theft, according to a probable cause statement obtained by Fox News Digital. The evening before, Ringfield was working at cashier register 9, and afterward management noticed more than $1,800 was missing from Ringfield’s shift, the document says. 

“There was an investigation with loss prevention and management to review security footage which captured Walter taking customers’ cash at the register and [pocketing] it over several transactions amounting to over 1800 dollars,” the document says. Ringfield was brought for questioning with management and loss prevention and “later admitted to the theft and had all the cash which stolen from yesterday in his front pant pocket.”

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“When asked by the officer whose money this was he stated it was Frys cash, and he was returning it,” the document says. “During Miranda Rights, Walter stated he has been working for Frys for 2 weeks. He was struggling to pay rent and could not pay bills. Walter admitted he took the money from the register. Walter was subsequently booked into jail for his listed charge. Frys desired prosecution.”

In the section asking whether the defendant serviced in the U.S. military, the document is checked “yes,” and under branches served in, indicated the U.S. Navy. 

The document also lists a prior arrest for disorderly conduct and fighting. It says Ringfield is not currently on active duty, is not homeless and is not in need of the court to provide an interpreter. 

Under place of the birth, it indicates U.S., and cites present U.S. citizenship. 

Fox News Digital reached out to the Navy’s personnel office seeking more information on Ringfield’s military service but did not immediately hear back. 

The case was opened by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office 10 months ago. 

Ringfield was arrested again on Friday in connection to the theft of a security fob at the Maricopa County Elections building in Phoenix, authorities said. 

At Tuesday’s press conference, Maricopa County Sheriff Russ Skinner was asked if authorities had a reason to believe the theft was “politically motivated.” He said he could not speculate at this time, explaining that investigators “are still combing through a lot of digital evidence that were taken at the scene and going through items that were taken in the search warrant.” 

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“We don’t have any indication at this point, but we’re not ruling it out. And we’re going to leave no stone unturned. We’re going to make sure that we do evaluate all of the evidence that was out there and ensure that we follow up on anything that may be potentially directing us somewhere else or other actors that may be involved in this. But at this point, we do not have anything that indicates that.” 

Maricopa County, which has had repeated tabulation equipment concerns, has become a hotbed of election-fraud claims in recent years, especially during the last presidential election in 2020. 

Gates said they do not expect the incident to “have any impact whatsoever on the primary,” which is scheduled for July 30.

“The security fobs are used in conjunction with special secure tablets during the election,” the probable cause document says. “Because the security fob was removed from the secure facility, all the security fobs and secure tablets will need to be reprogrammed to be secure for the upcoming election. The director of the facility states that the estimated cost of the reprogramming would be greater than $19,000, and the secure operation of the facility is greatly impeded until the reprogramming is complete.”

Gates said all the tabulators have been reprogrammed, and the county conducted a logic and accuracy test and notified the political parties. 


On Thursday, Ringfield was captured on surveillance cameras walking past a desk and multiple tabulators, the document says. Ringfield stops at the desk and grabs a “red scrunchy wrist lanyard with a security fob and keys attached” and continues walking, the document says. He then allegedly puts the security fob and lanyard into the right pocket of his shorts and “immediately after, he raises his arms to stretch.” 

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The document says Ringfield was confronted by his employer about the theft and “Walter told them he did not take the fob and lanyard.” 

Ringfield told the employer, “if he did mistakenly take it, it may be inside his car because it wasn’t in his pocket when he got home,” the document says. Ringfield allowed his employer and security to look inside his vehicle, and they observed “a red plastic lanyard on the center console shifter, and a plastic tag identifying the station one which matched the missing keys,” but the fob was not located at that time. 

The next day, detectives went to Ringfield’s residence in Phoenix and arrested him while he was outside. 

“Detectives were able to see through the window into Walter’s Acura which was backed into the driveway and could see a red plastic item on the shifter consistent with what the employer and security observed,” the document says. “Walter was interviewed post Miranda and said he worked at MCTEC and was fired because they thought he stole something.”

Walter admitted to detectives that he took the fob but claimed he had it only for approximately 20 minutes and then gave it back. 

Ringfield claimed he took the fob because his job was temporary, and he was trying to make it permanent, so he wanted to clean up. 

Detectives executed a search warrant at Ringfield’s residence and the security fob was located inside the master bedroom on top of a dresser, the document says. 

Unlike the one from months ago, the probable cause document in last week’s arrest ticks the “unknown” box in the section asking if the defendant served in the U.S. military

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