Tucson man example of failed system: Criminal record, prison term, claims of being Tony Montana's cousin do not keep him off the street

At a small-boned 5-feet 7-inches tall and 165 pounds, 49-year-old Barbaro Tamayo may not cut a particularly imposing figure.

The Tucson man’s state prison and county court records, which include 21 criminal charges along with a three-year prison term, say otherwise.

Al Pacino as Tony Montano in his throne in Scarface

A former worker in the mental health section of the Pima County Jail went so far as to call Tamayo “frail” – but also noted there was reason Tamayo had been previously housed in the mental health section.

“He told me he was Tony Montana’s cousin,” said the worker, who is remaining anonymous unless he confirms it’s OK to use his name.

He also said Tamayo, who is originally from Cuba and only speaks Spanish, was fine – as long as he was in a controlled environment, like jail, that administered and made sure he took his medication. He did not know what type of medication was administered and there is no official declaration of Tamayo’s mental health status.

Tamayo refused an interview request, which would have come with a translator.

The diminutive, wiry man was most recently charged with attempted sexual assault in connection with a string of sexually motivated burglaries targeting single women who lived alone near the University of Arizona. The targeted area ran from Speedway Boulevard to Broadway, from Campbell Avenue west to Stone Avenue.

Tucson’s historic Sam Hughes neighborhood, which is no stranger to Tamayo, sits just east of the targeted burglary zone, running from Speedway to Broadway, from Campbell east to Country Club Road.

“(The residents) have been complaining about him for seven years,” says former Sam Hughes resident Cherlyn Gardner Strong, “with it peaking all over the last couple of days. The guy is a major problem.”

A 2007 neighborhood listserv message she shared offered a brief background on Tamayo from one of the residents. The resident said that Tamayo’s history of crime led him to a residential treatment facility in October 2006, which for some reason he either never entered or left shortly after admittance, and re-offended within 45 days.

“Please be vigilant in watching for suspicious activity in our neighborhood,” the message concludes. “If he is found in our neighborhood we are to notify the police immediately.”

Strong notes, however, the complaints did not seem to go much farther than some bickering over the neighborhood listserv.

“If they wish to preserve property values or whatever reason they have, fine,” Strong says. “However, this is not fair to female college students who have simply moved to the area due to the proximity to UA. I don’t give a damn about their property value worries when things like this have escalated to sexual crimes against women.”

Tamayo currently faces the single charge of attempted sexual assault, although police are looking into the possibility that he may be responsible for the entire month-long series of sexually motivated burglaries.

Tamayo’s other Pima County charges date back to 1997 and consist of:

11 – counts burglary in the second degree (three dismissed)
3 – counts burglary in the third degree (all three dismissed)
1 – count burglary in the first degree (dismissed)
1 – theft
1 – possession or use of a dangerous drug (dismissed)
1 – endangerment of others (dismissed)
1 – aggravated assault
1 – armed robbery

1 – attempted sexual assault (pending)

Source: Pima County Consolidated Justice Court

To be fair, a total of nine of the charges were dismissed while 10 resulted in grand jury indictments.

No further information was available, save for the entire situation being a blaring example of the system not working.

His three-year prison sentence stemmed from a July 1999 burglary attempt. He was admitted into prison in June 2000 and released in September 2002.

Tamayo’s list of infractions while imprisoned holds 11 entries, including several for refusing to work, a few for disobeying orders, one for theft, another for possession of contraband and one listed as “any sex act/stlk.” All are minor violations, except for the mysterious sex act, which is a major violation.

A total off 11 aliases are on record, some of which are combinations of his first name, last name and middle name of Cordova.

His prison record notes his public risk rating, or the danger he imposes to society on a scale of 1 to 5, is a low-rated 2.


NOTE: Barbaro Tamayo’s photo is available on the Arizona Dept. of Corrections website but I did not post it because police purposely withheld it when he was most recently arrested.

What do you think?

What needs to be done to get people the help they need?

Why is our system so screwed up?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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13 Responses to Tucson man example of failed system: Criminal record, prison term, claims of being Tony Montana's cousin do not keep him off the street

  1. intheworld says:

    Well, I think that one Barbaro guys is actually lying. First of all, Tony Montana is not real, but the Scarface “nickname” is. The movie  was inspired by mobster Al Capone, but it took many of the true life events of Cuban immigrants and twisted the movie into what it became (which it’s actually SUPER). So, I don’t think Barbaro is related to anybody that is a big time criminal. Since he got arrested for being a “sexual-predator” and now he is scared what inmates might do to him. He know’s that inmates don’t like rapists and child molesters and he is just trying to use his Cuban decent to scare inmates off. Now, about the justice system being broken…yes, it is in many way. Overall, the justice department is doing a good job.

    • Rynski says:

      hi intheworld,
      thanks for input. love your theory, but the tony montana relation claims actually came prior to the attempted sexual assault charges. not sure why he would say such a thing except, as you noted, the movie is super and perhaps a connection to such a great flick was desired.
      also good point on sex predators being lowest on prison totem pole.

  2. Oakland says:

    Three hots and a cot, no responsibilities, more rights than most people outside, and that’s just the prison system. It isn’t the system that tries to get them in there to begin with. Most offenders will repeatedly be in and out of the prison system. We as a society have tried to put a humane punishment on inhumane crimes, and wonder why the system is overloaded. That’s the part that begins with the justice system. In my opinion the system has totally failed.

    • Rynski says:

      hey oakland –
      nice line: ‘We as a society have tried to put a humane punishment on inhumane crimes….’
      too true. i know some actually desire to go back to prison because it’s a heck of a lot easier than trying to make a (legal) living on the outside. charles manson was one of those someones.

      • Oakland says:

        Thank you for the comment, I know a few of those people myself. It use to be the threat of the punishment was enough to keep people from committing the crimes in the first place, it doesn’t seem like that any more. Im not talking about cutting peoples hand off for stealing M & M’s, but I hear to many time of murders crying about there rights, when they took the rights away from someone else.

      • Rynski says:

        yeah, the perpetrator’s ‘rights’ are always a big issue. so sickening because, as you point out, when did they think about the victim’s rights.
        also agree cutting of hands for stealing M&M’s is a bit drastic – it would have to at least be a snickers theft (haha).

    • leftfield says:

      The implication seems to be that punishments are not severe enough to deter criminals.  The US has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, yet this does not mean we have one of the lowest offense rates in the world; quite the contrary.

      • Rynski says:

        it is ironic, isn’t it?
        perhaps part of it is because ‘incarceration’ does not fill folks with fear but rather thoughts of free cable TV? just a thought (although i recall hearing hearing info about the death penalty that also said the threat of death did nothing to deter crime).

  3. Che says:

    Yesterday the news was all about Gov. Brewer’s mentally ill son in the state mental hospital for a sexual assualt that occured 20 years ago. Now this. I had no idea that mental illness can lead to sexual predatation. 

    We hear stories about how during psychosis some end up murdering others because  the voices are telling them to kill.  So are voices telling them to rape others?!?!

    It sounds bizarre, but I can understand the killing in that there’s a perceived threat that must be eliminated — self defense in the person’s diseased mind. But rape? How does that protect the self? It’s just something I hadn’t heard about before and knowing how pathetic services are for those with mental illness, it’s a little bit disconcerting — especially for women.

    • Rynski says:

      hiya che,
      interesting comment – thanks.
      can’t answer your questions on mental illness and rape – but i can tell you i knew one man who was the nicest guy – until he decided he no longer needed his meds since he felt so good (not putting the two together that the reason he felt good was because he was on medication).
      off his medication he became a monster, capable of a number of dangerous, harmful and disgusting behaviors, ranging from animal abuse to death threats…on which he seemed quite ready to follow through had the police not become involved.

      • Che says:

        Yeah, maybe they end up operating from their “lizard” brain and have problems with higher-order thinking. And with people who end up self-medicating with alcohol, meth, etc., it leads to even worse times for all involved. Unfortunately, we’ve moved a large portion of our mental health system over to criminal justice. (Not that it was a good mental health system to begin with.)  Thanks!

  4. fraser007 says:

    I have lived in the Sam Hughes Neighborhood as well as Pie Allen Neighborhood. And have been victims of crime. Burglars etc.
    In both places the neighbors were at times not “security” aware. Not locking windows, not enough lights were on. U of A students were often victims due to those reasons. The criminals loved the area due to that. Large parties would draw the thieves. I know I confronted them. The high rate of rentals meant the home owners who rented did not know who was rwnting. ie drug pushers. I know my own doctor owned a house there which housed those people. He later cleaned it up.
    We used to call it (Sam Hughes) Barrio Volvo. Air head liberals who didnt confront crime in an aggressive way. I know I lived there, was a victim and I fought back.

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