Maricopa House

Police searched this home on West Yucca Lane in Maricopa in December for a missing dog and found approximately 100 firearms with tens of thousands of rounds, along with multiple passports belonging to Sasha Verma, who was arrested.

FLORENCE — Sasha Verma remains in the Pinal County Adult Detention Center as prosecutors have persuaded a judge to increase his bond to $500,000 cash.

Verma’s defense attorneys from Pasadena, California, asked the court to lower the previous $400,000 secured bond holding him in jail to $200,000. Prosecutors in turn moved to push that bond to $500,000 cash.

Verma, 50, of Maricopa, was arrested Dec. 19 after police received a 911 report of a missing dog and a pool of blood on West Yucca Lane.

He was arrested for 11 counts of sexual exploitation of children and cruelty to animals.

The missing dog, named Bruno, was owned by Ethan Cook and Amalia Clark, who are Verma’s neighbors. Bruno allegedly was shot and killed by Verma. The shooting led Maricopa Police to arrest Verma for child exploitation. The missing dog Bruno has never been found.

When arrested, Verma had multiple passports and multiple citizenship documents from different countries in his possession including Germany, Canada and the United States, according to court records. Police also state he “has access to a large amount of money” and even had $70,000 cash with him when arrested at his house in Maricopa.

On Jan. 23, defense attorney Kamille Dean filed an answer in Superior Court to the state’s attempt to increase Verma’s bond to $500,000.

Dean said Verma was willing to consent to electronic monitoring if released on a lower bond and not return to the scene of the crime, which happens to be his home in Maricopa. Dean wrote that all of Verma’s passports were seized by police, he does not have any criminal record and the evidence against him concerning the killing of the dog is “circumstantial at best.”

When it comes to the 11 counts of sexual exploitation of children against him, Dean wrote, “Mr. Verma is not alleged to have had contact with minors or to have personally made any child pornography.”

In the court brief she added, “Empirical literature is unable to validate the assumption that there is a causal connection between possession of child pornography and child sex abuse.”

Dean said while the FBI and Maricopa Police executed the search warrants on his home, he remained there “patiently in the driveway.” She told the court Verma was allowed to leave by the FBI and that he returned home.

“The State claims Mr. Verma’s whereabouts were unknown for three days after the search warrant, however, Mr. Verma was home. Mr. Verma was not given instructions to contact law enforcement once he returned home, nor did law enforcement contact him to let him know they had completed the search of his residence,” Dean wrote.

She told the court that Verma, his friends and family could raise a $200,000 secured bond to allow him to be freed from jail until his trial.

Verma is scheduled to appear in Superior Court Monday for a status hearing.

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Jim Headley is a reporter covering breaking news, crime and justice around Pinal County. He can be reached at jheadley@pinalcentral.com.

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