While Sheriff Joe was pursuing a vendetta against County officials, chasing down Mexicans with broken tail lights, and raiding dry cleaners demanding immigration papers, over 400 sexual assaults were going under-investigated. According to the article, this was not an accident -- there was a real prioritization that put few resources in the special victims unit and put more and better staff on things like counter-terrorism (Phoenix being a well-known hotbed of terrorist activity).
The understaffing in the special-victims unit was due in part to the Sheriff's Office's priorities -- and the special-victims unit was not one of them, according to a half-dozen current and former sheriff's employees.
Despite a Maricopa County hiring freeze prompted by the faltering economy, the Sheriff's Office from 2005 through mid-2008 was hiring 45 to 50 new deputies annually and tackling initiatives that included counterterrorism and homeland-security enhancements. The office also embraced immigration enforcement, sending 60 deputies and 100 detention officers through a federal immigration-training program and creating a human-smuggling unit with at least 15 dedicated deputies.
Staffing in the special-victims unit remained unchanged during those years: four detectives....
The Sheriff's Office was allocated more than $600,000 in fiscal 2007 for six full-time positions for "investigating cases involving sexual abuse, domestic violence, abuse and child abuse." The Sheriff's Office now says the six new positions were to focus solely on child-abuse cases. In any event, they cannot say where those deputies went to work.
"We don't know," Chief Deputy Sheridan said. "We've looked, and we can't find any of those position numbers which were allocated for child-abuse cases."
This is due in part to the acknowledged misallocation of roughly $100 million in agency funds that had patrol deputies being paid out of an account designated for detention officers.
The department was almost certainly spending more on Joe Arpaio's PR than it was on the special victims unit. Dozens of cases showed no investigation at all, and hundreds showed that no contact had been made either with the victim or the suspect. Piles of case files were found random file cabinets and even one officer's garage.
Andrew Thomas was very competitive in Radley Balko's Worst Prosecutor of the Year voting. But if he had just waited a few days, this news could have easily put Thomas over the top:
The same people responsible for tens of millions in claims being filed against Maricopa County are now drooling after their own pot of gold.
Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and David Hendershott, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's former right-hand man have filed a notice of claim along with Thomas' former lackey, Lisa Aubuchon, for a combined total of $60 million.
Aubuchon had already filed a $10 million claim; she's revised that to $22.5 million. Andrew Thomas, who quit the job voters gave him and failed in his bid to become state Attorney General, has the gall to seek $23.5 million from taxpayers. And Hendershott, the infamous Chief Deputy now under investigation following a co-worker's allegations of corruption and abuse of power, wants $14 million.
For the first time in my life, I voted in a partisan primary for the Coke/Pepsi parties this year specifically to vote against Thomas. I cannot even imagine why they think they deserve this kind of payoff. If anyone should be suing, it is the citizens of Maricopa County who should be suing these three. Lots of articles about him on my site, but this one in the ABA Journal covers a lot of the ground.
Most everyone knows that Al Capone was finally nailed for tax evasion, rather than murder, robber, extortion and all the more heinous crimes for which he was mostly likely guilty. For years, an unfortunately relatively small group of us here in Phoenix have tried to see Sheriff Joe Arpaio brought to justice, or at least removed from office, for his numerous abuses of power. Lacking the success so far, Arpaio may finally go down for fraud in his management of County funds.
In something that should be a surprise to no one, even his supporters, the supremely arrogant Arpaio did not like state law and the county supervisors rules on where he could spend different parts of his budget. So it appears he created a shadow payroll system that has only just been discovered that has been paying different people different amounts for different purposes than what shows up in the official County payroll systems, and has been doing so for over a decade.
Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson and her staff in the Office of Management and Budget for months have worked to figure out how extensive financial problems are, and she expressed shock at the hidden system.
"They've developed a system that basically tracks where they are working versus where they are being paid, and they did not update the official database, which led to the potential problems," Wilson said. "I think they deliberately hid this info from us."
The employee-tracking database was in a secure criminal-justice computer system accessible only to the Sheriff's Office. Control of access to that system, known as ICJIS, has been the subject of a long-running and expensive legal battle during the past two years.
County administrators say they were puzzled by the sheriff's willingness to sue over what they viewed as minor issues related to control of the ICJIS system. The fight by the sheriff to block county access to the system has cost more than $1.6 million.
County officials believe Sheriff's Chief Deputy David Hendershott sought to limit access to the system to hide the shadow payroll records it contained. Those records showed that potentially hundreds of employees who did no work in the jails were being paid with detention funds.
"That's a reasonable conclusion to draw, but we don't know for sure," Irvine said. "From Maricopa County's perspective, the ICJIS dispute and lawsuit has made no sense."
County officials sent information on the payroll system to the U.S. Attorney's Office for review. That office is conducting a separate abuse-of-power probe of Sheriff Arpaio, his employees and others.
The article fails to mention it, but I believe that the county computer facility mentioned above was the same one that Arpaio sent armed deputies storming in to take over about a year ago. At the time, no one really bought his explanation that it was about protecting sensitive criminal information from prying eyes. I hypothesized it was to take control of an email server that had incriminating information about Arpaio, but now it turns out it may have been to protect his shadow payroll system.