Friday, September 17, 2010
Meanwhile In Maricopa County, A Train's A Comin'
A spokesman for the Pinal County sheriff said Babeu has not yet reviewed the 63-page memo, which alleges widespread wrongdoing by Chief Deputy David Hendershott and others. The memorandum, authored by Deputy Chief Frank Munnell, describes an oppressive work environment in which Hendershott is alleged to have threatened [yestereday's story, at the link, reports that Chief Deputy Hendershott threatened to "machinegun" other sheriff's deputies who balked at serving harassing summons on elected County officials in the Stalinsist raids of last year] and [Hendershott] retaliated against subordinates who questioned him and browbeat others into refusing to cooperate with federal and state investigations into the Sheriff's Office. Hendershott is the office's second-in-command and runs the sheriff's day-to-day operations.
Assistant Chief Deputy Munnell asked Arpaio to place Hendershott, Deputy Chief Larry Black and Capt. Joel Fox on administrative leave pending an independent investigation by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Black and Fox were placed on leave with pay Thursday. Hendershott remains on medical leave and is expected to return in several weeks.
Rather than involve the DPS, Arpaio sent the memo to Babeu, a political ally, for review.
Munnell, one of a group of high-ranking officers subordinate to Hendershott, on Thursday spoke briefly about his memo, telling The Arizona Republic he was pleased with Arpaio's decision.
'I believe a fair and appropriate and impartial investigation will take place, and I'm going to let it take its course,' Munnell said. [ . . . ]
[Chief Deputy] Hendershott [long Arpaio's right hand man] makes $165,000 a year, which does not include retirement earnings. Fox makes $103,000 and Black $80,000. [ . . .]
[Assistant Deputy] Munnell's memo said Hendershott's conduct jeopardizes the stability of one of the largest sheriff's agencies in the nation. He alleges Hendershott pressured subordinates on a corruption task force to write a questionable search warrant and then repeatedly threatened that he would "machine gun" them if they refused. Munnell also asserts that Hendershott retaliated against those who acted against him and protected those who remained loyal.
The memo was turned over to the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice, which for nine months have presented evidence before a federal grand jury. The agencies are working together on an abuse-of-power inquiry into Arpaio, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas and others in their agencies.
On Thursday, The Republic obtained the personnel files of the three longtime sheriff's officials named in the memo from both Arpaio's office and county human resources.
Munnell's memo alleges years of behavior that ranges from inappropriate to criminal, but a review of the files found the three to be model employees, and they have consistently received marks of 'outstanding' and 'excellent' on annual performance reviews. Munnell also claims in the memo that Hendershott has favored employees who are shielded and protected by Hendershott from receiving any discipline.' [ . . . ]
If the investigation becomes a criminal matter, the administrative probe is frozen until the criminal investigation is complete. With the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office already the subject of a federal civil-rights investigation and two separate criminal probes at the state and federal level, Pinal County investigators should coordinate with the other agencies, Warriner said.
'The last thing you want to do,' he said, 'is go in knowing the federal government, the FBI, is already doing an investigation and step in and mess up their case.'"
At the end of the day, Maricopans--read Cleveland.com's county in crisis series to see your fate. It's coming faster than you can imagine.