Friday, September 17, 2010

Meanwhile In Maricopa County, A Train's A Comin'

Things appear to be (further) crumbling on the floor of the Justice Center where Sheriff Joe ran/runs his regime of terror.  Chief Deputy David Hendershott (pic, right) is being called out by one of the Sheriff's other chief loyalists.  The story and its follow-up are by reporters Yvonne Wingett and JJ Hensley, this morning's report brings us news that Sheriff Joe is finally taking action against his closest allies,--because his hand is being forced by other Arpaio loyalists who can apparently read the writing on the wall:

"The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has placed two of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's top aides on administrative leave after they and another aide were accused of misconduct and mismanagement.  The move comes as Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu determines the merits of the allegations against them.  The deputy chief who wrote a memo containing explosive allegations that triggered the inquiry said Thursday that he supports the sheriff's decision to have Babeu review the matter.

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.'"
There's a pattern here, the Sheriff and his henchmen trammeled the rights of criminals, to near universal acclaim, including book deals, television, and media fame.  Then they trammeled the rights of the the criminally accused, with the same result.  Then they began to trammel the rights of citizens who they wrongfully accused of misdeeds.  They spent the public dollar like it was their own.  When elected officials in charge of the public money objected, the Sheriff and his allies went after the elected officials and the Judges.  In doing so Arpaio, Thomas, Hendershott and their allies sunk into a frenzy of frivolous and insane litigation that is costing Maricopa County millions. 

As we see in OurCounty, and its avatar, Cuyahoga County, Ohio--this sort of thing inevitably leads to widespread corruption which will be prosecuted, and the Federal government is nothing if not thorough and patient.  What will ultimately happen is that the underlying corruption charges will not matter, because the corrupt officials and their minions will commit myriad further crimes of obstruction, and perjury in the service of covering up the underlying criminal behavior.

At the end of the day, Maricopans--read's county in crisis series to see your fate.  It's coming faster than you can imagine.

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