Posts tagged ‘sheriff arpaio’

Is Arpaio Running a Protection Racket?

This weekend the Feds raided the Phoenix-area's largest car wash chain "Danny's" for a variety of unspecified immigration issues, and carried a number of folks off to jail or away for deportation.   This is a very high profile and upscale business (I am looking at one outside my office window).  These are not your father's car washes -- they are large and well-appointed and tailored to an upscale crowd.

Given that this is easily the highest profile car wash chain in town and each location is staffed with scores of folks of Hispanic origin**, my first thought on reading this story was to wonder why Sheriff Joe Arpaio had not conducted the raid.  After all, he has practically made a career of immigration raids on car washes (here is just one raid, note by the way the horrific comments saying things like "God bless Arpaio" just under a video of normal, regular human beings being hauled off in handcuffs for ... working.)

Well, other folks in the Phoenix area wondered the same thing, and have observed that by some odd coincidence, the most obvious immigration target not raided by Sheriff Arpaio is also the largest donor to Arpaio's Sheriff's charities, and its founder can often be seen palling around with Arpaio at public events.   Note Danny's prominently displayed on Arpaio's web site.

From our local sheriff all the way up to the President, we are increasingly a country of arbitrary laws and special crony exemptions.  If you are not friends with Wesley Mouch, good luck to you.

 

** Not trying to profile here, just trying to think like the Sheriff

Why Sheriff Joe is Still Sheriff

For those of you not in Arizona that wonder from all the articles about him why Sheriff Joe is still elected by almost landslide majorities, and why Republicans all over the state still beg him for his endorsement, here it is:

A subsequent examination of the sheriff's file showed that residents of Maricopa County wrote to him regarding the presence of Mexicans in greater Phoenix.

Citizens saw day laborers. They saw people with brown skin. They heard Spanish spoken.

And what the letters reveal is enormous anxiety about Hispanics:

  • "I always see numerous Mexicans standing around in that area . . . These Mexicans swarmed around my car, and I was so scared and alarmed . . . I was never so devastated in my life regarding these circumstances . . . Although the Mexicans at this location may be within their legal right to be there . . . I merely bring this matter to your attention in order that all public agencies, FBI, etc., may be kept informed of these horrific circumstances."
  • "I would love to see an immigrant sweep conducted in Surprise, specifically at the intersection of Grand and Greenway. The area contains dozens of day workers attempting to flag down motorists seven days a week."
  • "The Mesa police chief drags his feet and stalls . . . the head of the Mesa police union is a Hispanic."
  • "As a retiree in Sun City, formerly from Minnesota, I am a fan of yours and what you are doing to rid the area of illegal immigrants . . . when I was in McDonald's at Bell Road and Boswell (next to the Chase Bank) this noon, there was not an employee in sight, or within hearing, who spoke English as a first language — to my dismay. From the staff at the registers to the staff back in the kitchen area, all I heard was Spanish — except when they haltingly spoke to a customer. You might want to check this out."

And Sheriff Arpaio did check it out.

None of the Hispanics described in the letters had broken the law. It is not against the law to speak Spanish or work as a day laborer.

Arpaio nonetheless gave the correspondence to Deputy Chief Brian Sands. Federal Judge Snow determined that raids and roundups quickly followed. Hispanics were rousted because white people were uncomfortable.

Sheriff Joe once did a roundup in tony Fountain Hills, which I would be surprised if it had even 5% Hispanic population, and managed to drag in for various petty violations (e.g. cracked windshield) a group that was about 95% Hispanic.  His favorite thing to do, when he isn't busting into homes with Hollywood celebrities, is to send his deputies into a business and have them handcuff everyone with brown skin and refuse to release them until they or their family members have arrived to prove they are in the US legally.

This whole article is a good roundup of yet another abusive side of Arpaio, his flagrant disregard for public records laws and the rules of evidence.  In Maricopa County, "exculpatory evidence" and "shredded" have roughly the same meaning.

Say It Ain't So, Joe

Apparently, while Sheriff Arpaio was busy raiding businesses and zip-tieing everyone with brown skin and distracted by his attempts to arrest judges that handed down unfavorable decisions, there was actual violent crime happening in Maricopa County.  With the Sheriff busy with celebrities raiding homes suspected of cockfighting with tanks, minor stuff like rape got put on the back burner.  The story has just been discovered by the AP but it has been kicking around town for a while:

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office failed to adequately investigate more than 400 sex-crime cases, including dozens in El Mirage, over a two-year period because of poor oversight and former Chief Deputy David Hendershott's desire to protect a key investigator from bad publicity, according to documents pertaining to a recent internal investigation released by the Sheriff's Office.

The errors led to interminable delays for victims of serious crimes who waited years for the attackers to be brought to justice, if they were ever caught.

More than 50 El Mirage sex-crime cases, most involving young children reportedly victimized by friends or family, went uninvestigated after police took an initial report. The lack of oversight was so widespread in El Mirage that it affected other cases: roughly 15 death investigations, some of them homicides with workable leads, were never presented to prosecutors, and dozens of robberies and auto-theft cases never led to arrests.

The East Valley Tribune actually had details on this story over three years ago, in a story that won a Pullitzer, but the Sheriff never bothered to do anything until the story hit the AP.

Employees were preparing to close the 99 Cent Discount Store in El Mirage on Aug. 20, 2006, when a teenage girl ran inside.

Agitated and refusing to leave, the 15-year-old girl told the store's manager that two men had just raped her in a ditch outside, a police report says.

Paramedics took the girl to Del E. Webb Hospital in Sun City West, where medical staff found physical evidence of sexual assault, according to deputy chief Bill Knight, head of the sheriff's central investigations, who researched the case.

At midnight, a detective from the MCSO's special victims unit arrived at the hospital to begin an investigation, the report says.

But the investigation never really began.

The MCSO closed the case a month later by designating it "exceptionally cleared," which is supposed to be applied to cases where a suspect is known and there's enough evidence to make an arrest but circumstances prevent an arrest. That designation allows the MCSO to count the case in the same reporting category as investigations that end in arrest.

But in this case, the detectives didn't have a suspect and appear to have done no work on the case.

I would love to see a reincarnation of "the Wire" focused on our Sheriff's department.  All the same corruptions in the show are on display every day here in Arizona.

Our Local Enemies List. Is This Finally the End for Sheriff Joe?

Folks in other parts of the country hypothesize that their politicians may or may not have enemies lists, but these are all, frankly, wimpy initiatives when compared to our famous Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his treatment of enemies.  You see, if Sheriff Joe sees you as a political enemy, he brings you up on charges.  When he came in conflict with his bosses, he and his buddy former County attorney Andrew Thomas brought them up on racketeering charges.  When a judge failed to deliver the rulings he wanted in that case, he brought the judge up on bribery charges that fell apart even before the ink was dry (read about some of the hijinx here).

Now there is an ongoing investigation of Sheriff Joe and his department around Arpaio's attempts to get a political opponent, one of his bosses on the Board of Supervisors Joe Stapely, brought up on charges.  Or at least, be seen in the media as brought up on charges, because it is fairly clear that Arpaio was less interested with the strength of the case (which like many of his other political attacks fell apart nearly immediatley) as casting negative media attention on a political opponent.  Money quote highlighted in bold, from the Phoenix New Times which has a great history of staying on Arpaio's case but does not write very well organized articles.

About a month after the indictment, MACE [a division within Arpaio's organization] raided the offices of an associate of Stapley's, developer Conley Wolfswinkel. The claimed justification was that the Sheriff's Office was looking for evidence of additional crimes that detectives had uncovered in the disclosure-form case.

Knight [leader of MACE] had reviewed the search warrant before a raid on January 22, 2009, and believed that he had enough evidence based on testimony from Stapley's bookkeeper, Joan Stoops, to carry out the raid. Stoops told detectives that it appeared Wolfswinkel had inked an agreement to pay Stapley hundreds of thousands of dollars in a land deal when Wolfswinkel had business before the Board of Supervisors.

Knight said Sheriff Arpaio reviewed the search warrant personally — and asked Knight why he hadn't included more details about the case in the warrant. Knight, according to the report, told Arpaio that the details weren't necessary to establish probable cause, the legal term for the level of evidence needed to persuade a judge to sign a search warrant.

The report doesn't specify which details Arpaio wanted Knight to add, but it does describe how Arpaio pressed him on the issue, saying he wanted to make sure the warrant would hold up. Knight didn't buy what Arpaio was saying, believing that the sheriff only wanted the extra information so he could sensationalize the case.

"Are we writing a press release or are we writing a search warrant?" Knight said he asked the sheriff. "I just need to be clear on what we're trying to produce here."

The sheriff stared at him and said sternly: "Get the information in there," the report states. Arpaio then got up and walked out.

Knight did as he was told and included the superfluous information. He had the warrant signed and prepared his deputies for the raid on Wolfswinkel's Tempe business office. He recalled that Arpaio's right-hand man, then-Chief Deputy David Hendershott, called Knight numerous times, asking: "Are we in yet?"

Hendershott, Knight stated, told him that as soon as the search warrant was signed, Knight was to go to the nearest Kinko's and fax a copy to sheriff's headquarters.

"So we get in; we secure the place," Knight said to investigators. "I run over to the nearest Kinko's, which is three or four miles away, [and] fax the document over to him.

"By the time I get back to Conley's business, I've already got a news helicopter flying overhead."

Knight found out later that the search warrant had been handed to the media in conjunction with a press release.

A news conference was under way before Knight got back to his office.

Arpaio also tailored his public statement to emphasize the shocking revelation that Stapley and Wolfswinkel were being investigated in an alleged "bribery" scheme.

The bribery story fell apart within days, by the way, as the officers realized they had the dates wrong on the land deal such that the deal and the supposed political payoff could not be related.

Arpaio faces a myriad of charges.  His defense was that it all happened without his knowledge, which is laughable given the way he is known to run the department.   He is claiming in his PR that the whole department is created in his image but that he has no responsibility for what it does.  Like any good mobster, he apparently had a consigliere named Hendershott who he is attempting to claim now was a loan wolf rather than Arpaio's right hand man, in order to deflect accountability.

The entire article is worth  a read for Arpaio-philes and phobes alike.  It serves as a good summary of some of the worst excesses of Arpaio's reign.

Update:  By the way, does anyone feel comfortable with a police department (much less sheriff Joe) having the weapon shown in this picture.   Can one imagine any legitimate use, short of perhaps a full-blow zombie invasion?   (source)

Sheriff Joe May Finally Get Nailed

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.

The Ever-Predictable Sheriff Joe

Via Valley Fever, Sheriff Joe is expanding his outdoor jail whose conditions are substantially worse than those at the nearby WWII POW camp where German prisoners were held.

In the words of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, 17 years ago today, "on a swelteringly hot day in 1993, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio opened the doors to the nation's largest canvas incarceration compound. Tent City, as it became known, would prove to be one of Sheriff Arpaio's best known and potentially most controversial programs."

Today, Arpaio's celebrating the anniversary by unveiling a new section of the compound: "Section 1070," specifically designated for those arrested under Arizona's controversial, new immigration law.

The new section can hold an additional 100 inmates but Arpaio says he expects that number to grow.

"Citizens here sincerely hope that SB 1070 will result in large numbers of illegal aliens being captured and arrested by local law enforcement officers," Arpaio says. "I'm not so certain that will actually happen. But on the assumption it does, then as the Sheriff of this county, I am ready. Tent City is ready. There will never be the excuse that this jail hasn't enough room for violators of SB 1070."

Blaming Private Companies for Government Procurement Errors

The blaming of private companies for government procurement errors is one I deal with frequently at my privatization blog.  This seems to be a particularly egregious example:

Maricopa County officials can't sue the Sheriff's Office for buying a $465,000 bus without their approval, so now they want to sue the bus company.

Precisely why Motor Coach Industries would be sued over the internal squabble remains unclear.

The county has maintained in this months-long bus battle that Sheriff Arpaio's office bought the vehicle with Jail Enhancement funds, when it should have used a typical county procurement process.

From the bus company's point of view, though, the Sheriff's Office was a customer with cash. For the county to demand a full refund, without so much as a deduction for the depreciation, seems like a raw deal for MCI.

Cari Gerchick, spokeswoman for the county, says text of the lawsuit won't be released until after the Board of Supervisors votes on it at Monday's meeting. She could not provide the legal justification for the expected lawsuit, beyond saying that MCI "should have known" the MCSO had not followed the county's procurement process.

Get that?  The company should have known that our County's chief law enforcement officer was not following the law.  This is obviously an absurd contention, but further the company had two geographic disadvantages:  1.  Not being from AZ, they don't know just how unethical our sheriff really is; and 2.  Being from Chicago, even if they had recognized unethical behavior, they would have assumed it was perfectly legal

Pink Jumpsuit for Sheriff Joe

Via Expresso Pundit:

It's becoming increasingly clear that Sheriff Joe--and probably County Attorney Andy Thomas--are going to be indicted on multiple felony counts.Maricopa County Manager David Smith issued this statement today.

Today's grand jury appearance was a welcome opportunity to tell our story on behalf of County employees.  Dozens and dozens of County employees, and some County vendors, have been targeted by Sheriff Arpaio and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas with retaliatory criminal investigations without cause, and disruption of their working lives without justification.

Sandi Wilson and I expect to return to the grand jury to give even more detailed testimony in three or four weeks about the many abuses of power by Sheriff Arpaio and his office that were generally described to the grand jury today.  We look forward to that next opportunity in the interests of justice.

Look in the Dictionary Under Dysfunctional and You Will Find This

Taxpayers in Maricopa County (which includes Phoenix) are paying millions of dollars for officials within the county government to sue each other:

Lawsuits between county agencies including the Sheriff's Office, the County Attorney's Office and the Treasurer's Office against county administration have cost more than $2.5 million in legal fees according to the county's records through early November.

The Sheriff's Office has used attorneys from Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and Stewart to wage legal battles with the county on issues including control of a law-enforcement computer system and the need to release surveillance footage of sheriff's deputies arresting Supervisor Don Stapley

in a county parking garage.

Next year, the Sheriff's office has asked for $7 million for this purpose.  Wow.  Given that I despise Sheriff Arpaio, I would love to lay this all at his door step but my sense is that the dysfunctionality goes broader and deeper.

Another Selling Point for Phoenix Light Rail

Share a ride with a prisoner:

Maricopa County sheriff's deputies may soon begin taking some inmates to Fourth Avenue Jail on Metro light rail in a bid to cut costs.

The Sheriff's Office announced its intent to transport inmates using the light rail from 44th and Washington streets to the Fourth Avenue Jail in order to eliminate parking fees. MCSO estimates that the new system can save about $72,000 in transport fees.

Seems to be some funny economics at work if the city charges the Sheriff more money for parking a car at the jail than it does for at least 3 people to ride the metro.

Anyway, count on Sheriff Joe to ease any tension you might have with this share-a-ride program:

"There is nothing to be concerned or worried about as my deputies will be armed," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a press release.

Great, but who is going to protect me from the sheriff?  And why does this statement remind me of the famous Al Haig "Don't Worry, I'm in charge" press conference?

This Is What You Like To See: AZ Last in Pork-Barrel Cash

Arizona can be a weird place, politically.  Sometimes it can be among the most libertarian, part of the Goldwater legacy, and sometimes it can be absurdly statist, for example in the huge popular support our individual-rights-abusing Sheriff Arpaio enjoys.  But this is certainly good to see:

Arizona has some powerful lawmakers in Washington, including Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

But when it comes to pork-barrel spending, otherwise known as earmarks, the state isn't very powerful. In fact, it ranks last.

That's mostly because three of the state's 10 lawmakers in Washington,
McCain and House Republicans Jeff Flake and John Shadegg, refuse to ask
for any federal money
for local projects. Another Arizona Republican, Sen. Jon Kyl, strictly
limits his earmark requests. They all say the earmark process wastes
taxpayer money and desperately needs reform. But other Arizona
lawmakers counter that their colleagues' stance hurts the state.

rizona, one of the fastest growing states in the nation, will receive
$18.70 per capita in federal earmarks this fiscal year. By comparison,
Alaska, with roughly a 10th of Arizona's population, is set to receive
$506.34 per capita, the highest in the nation, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group that tracks earmarks.

Alaska receives about three times as much as Arizona in actual dollars,
$346 million to $119 million. That means Arizona gets less money for
water projects, bridge repairs, road construction and rural clinics.

Good for us.  While I have my problems with McCain, Shadegg and Flake are two of my favorite people in Congress. 

The article, since it comes from the Republic, of course fails to really explain the issues well.  It tries to get the reader confused into thinking that zero earmarks means zero government spending in the state:

"When you have reformers and purists, you end up not getting a
reasonable share of money coming out, which hurts the state," said
James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and
Presidential Studies at American University. "When you're holier than
thou, you don't get much of the money."

This is, of course, silly.  Having no earmarks merely means that the huge amounts of money the Feds spend are doled out by existing statute and by the bureaucracy, rather than the whim of individual Congress persons trying to pay back favors to large donors.

update:  see the bad half of AZ here.