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.

MARICOPA — Sasha Verma’s defense attorneys continue to ask the court to lower the $400,000 secured bond holding him in jail, while prosecutors have moved to increase that bond to $500,000 cash.

On Feb. 3 both sides will clash in a Pinal County Superior Court bond hearing before Judge Christopher O’Neil despite the fact the court has already rejected Verma’s attempts to lower his bond.

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 was Bruno, owned by Ethan Cook and Amalia Clark, who are Verma’s neighbors. Bruno was allegedly shot and killed by Verma, and the shooting also 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, 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.

Maricopa Police stated Verma was a major flight risk and is being housed in the Pinal County Adult Detention Center pending the posting of a $400,000 secured bond.

A lowered bail request of $100,000 was denied in the case on Jan. 2 and defense attorneys have again filed for Verma’s bail to be lowered.

This new motion did not sit well with prosecutor Kristen Sharifi of the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, who authored a 16-page super-brief in response detailing Verma’s alleged crimes and his likelihood of fleeing the country to avoid “no less than 110 years in prison.”

Sharifi’s brief, filed Jan. 13, states, “The state is requesting this court deny the defendant’s motion and modify the bond to $500,000 cash only.”

During interviews with the owners of the missing dog, investigators determined this was not the first time that a dog had been shot and killed in the neighborhood.

“A report from 2014 showed a homeowner’s dog was shot and killed while in the backyard. The dog had been killed by a .22-caliber firearm. This home was located next to the defendant’s (Verma’s) home and the defendant was the owner of the home in 2014,” Sharifi’s court brief states.

In 2014, investigators attempted to interview Verma but they were never able to actually make contact with him, according to court records.

“The defendant told police he would speak with them, but he never followed through. The physical evidence in the 2014 investigation indicated the dog had been shot from the defendant’s property,” the brief states.

Sharifi also wrote about another case.

“In 2011, a man arrived home from the store and located his dog in his backyard deceased. The dog had been shot in the head. The police investigation determined no one had been in the backyard, as there were spider webs all over and below the side gate. This home was located next door to the defendant’s home. The victim had seen the defendant outside when he left for the store... it was determined the dog was shot from the defendant’s backyard,” the brief states.

Maricopa Police served a search warrant on Verma at his home on Dec. 15 and pounded on the front door for more than three minutes before utilizing a loud speaker to announce their presence.

“It took the defendant another 5 minutes to open the front door,” according to the brief.

The door opened and officers quickly found a large number of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Verma was informed by police that they would be in his home for several hours and he requested clothing and other items from the house. He was not allowed to remain inside and left the area as police searched the house.

Maricopa Police asked the Federal Bureau of Investigations to assist with the warrant. During the search, investigators found two pairs of pants hanging on a shower curtain rod upstairs and the bathroom had a strong odor of bleach. Both pairs of pants had been recently washed and a .22 rifle was found in the living room with a spent shell casing inside.

An alarming thing found during the search were passports from multiple nations.

“The defendant appears to maintain citizenship in Germany, Canada and the United States,” according to Sharifi’s brief.

A large number of newspaper clippings about violent incidents from around the world were also located, including stories about bombings and mass shootings. Police also found handwritten notes about bothersome vehicles in the neighborhood, documentation about when police were called and how often they were present along with notes about the time of day that dogs were barking. He made detailed notes on barking dogs and loud children in the neighborhood.

“There is reason to believe the defendant became so aggravated with the barking dog that he took action by shooting the dog and subsequently disposing of the dog’s body. Special (FBI) agents discovered similar note taking, illustrating the defendant’s growing agitation regarding noisy children. The State fears that the defendant will take action upon the children in the same fashion, as he did with the dog in this case,” Sharifi wrote.

The search warrant also produced “large amounts of pornography in the form of videos, showing what appeared to be child pornography, and certificates of gun training courses being completed.”

Police found many photographs and magazines with child pornography during the search. Investigators even found evidence that Verma was initially denied the ability to purchase firearms in the U.S. because his green card had expired.

Following Dec. 15, police and FBI agents attempted to locate Verma as he left his house during the search. Verma was not located until Dec. 19 and police have no idea where he may have gone for four days.

After his arrest, investigators found documentation of “90 weapons with an additional nine weapons under the heading ‘other location’” when they were examining his computers.

“Between the two locations, the weapons list includes rifles, shotguns, handguns, crossbows, air-rifles and air handguns. The list also includes a heading ‘Home Defense’ under which five locations such as front hallway and kitchen are listed, each with a corresponding firearm. At the bottom of the document, it states ‘Last updated 12/07/2019,” Sharifi’s brief states.

This indicates to investigators that Verma may have ownership of a second home in the area that no one knows about.

“There is zero evidence suggesting the defendant is not in possession of other passports and that the defendant has no family ties to the United States at this point in his life … Per the FBI, notes in the defendant’s computer appear to reveal a second residence/location that the defendant has access to, where additional firearms can be located. The defendant is a deadly threat to the community,” Sharifi wrote.

Verma remains in the Pinal County Adult Detention Center pending the posting of a $400,000 secured bond.

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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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