Moving Target

Vocal leader of deputy's group is candidate for dismissal

In March, Maricopa County sheriff's deputy Steve Barnes came forward with damning news: several of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies, Barnes said, had reported to the FBI that they and others had been ordered to surveil Arpaio's political enemies.

If Arpaio did order such surveillance, it could result in his being removed from office.

Arpaio reacted by angrily denying that he had ordered surveillance of anyone. The embattled sheriff announced that his office would begin an internal investigation to determine if such surveillance had been carried out, saying, "We're going to find out if there's any substance to these ridiculous allegations."

Arpaio's chief aide, Director David Hendershott, told the Arizona Republic that Arpaio would not be questioned in the investigation, adding that, "should a deputy have done that [surveillance], of course it would come out. But I can tell you it didn't happen."

Deputies say it was clear Arpaio and Hendershott had no intention for the investigation to find evidence that deputies had been ordered to follow such figures as former Arpaio aide and current sheriff's candidate Tom Bearup or County Attorney Rick Romley.

Last week, that prediction came true. Barnes, the deputy who came forward in the first place, found out that he has now become the target of Arpaio's investigation.

Barnes is president of the Deputies Law Enforcement Association, which is seeking bargaining status as a labor union. Barnes regularly serves as a representative for other deputies, who are precluded from speaking publicly about the sheriff's office. In this case, Barnes turned down a request for an interview, saying that he was under an admonition from internal affairs officers against speaking about the investigation. Fellow DLEA member Sergeant Darrell Smith spoke for Barnes, telling New Times that Barnes was notified he has become the principal, or target, of Arpaio's internal investigation. Smith says Arpaio apparently will try to prove that Barnes lied when he made the allegations in March.

Deputies say Arpaio will attempt to fire Barnes, who has been a thorn in the sheriff's side since Barnes helped organize the DLEA, a group vocal in its criticism of Arpaio. Already, Barnes has paid for his visibility as DLEA's president with an undesirable duty reassignment. Now, deputies say, Arpaio will try to prove that Barnes has defamed the sheriff's office by making false claims about illegal surveillance.

After three months, Arpaio's investigators apparently could find no evidence that deputies had, as Barnes said, gone to the FBI complaining that Arpaio's enemies were being surveilled.

They apparently didn't look very hard. New Times found that very evidence last week.

New Times has obtained the sworn deposition of sheriff's lieutenant James Mann, who was subpoenaed in the assault case of Sean Huskisson, the Scottsdale hairdresser who allegedly attacked Arpaio and Hendershott in a restaurant parking lot.

Huskisson was to have entered a guilty plea to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the case on June 8. Assault charges against him were to have been dropped.

In preparing for the case, Huskisson's attorney, Mike Terribile, attempted to gather evidence that Arpaio and Hendershott had reputations for untruthfulness, particularly when it involved potentially negative press. In March, Terribile subpoenaed Mann. (Mann declined an interview with New Times.)

Mann, head of security in Superior Court, testified that a year ago, he noticed suspicious characters hanging around the courthouse and decided to investigate. Part of his job, Mann said, was to keep an eye on the people who came to see trials, particularly in high-profile cases.

Last May, Mann had just such a case on his hands, the trial of Patrick Bearup, son of sheriff's candidate and former Arpaio aide Tom Bearup.

Patrick Bearup was on trial for shooting at a fleeing car. Convicted of assault, Patrick is currently serving a four-year sentence in state prison. During the trial, his father was a regular visitor.

Mann noticed that whenever Tom Bearup was in court, several suspicious people were there as well. "I observed people that normally would not have any reason to be around the Superior Court building," he testified.

One of them Mann recognized: Brad Dunn, a deputy who worked in special investigations, a division that answers to Arpaio aide David Hendershott.

Mann said he had Dunn questioned about his court appearances, and Dunn admitted that he had been instructed to tail Tom Bearup. Mann reported Dunn's surveillance to both County Attorney Rick Romley and the FBI. (Attempts to reach Brad Dunn were unsuccessful. The County Attorney's office declined to comment.)

Bearup tells New Timesthat when he attended his son's court appearances, he did notice deputy Dunn. Asked what Dunn was doing, Bearup replied, "Watching me."

"I think I talked to him. Nice guy," Bearup says. Several times, Bearup says, he noticed deputies in the hallways of the courthouse who seemed to be keeping an eye on him.

According to DLEA vice president Darrell Smith, Mann has not been questioned by Arpaio's internal affairs investigators in their supposed attempt to find out if surveillance of Bearup and others occurred. Bearup says he hasn't been questioned either.

But Mann's sworn testimony supports the claims Steve Barnes made in March, when he said that deputies had told the FBI of the tailing of Arpaio's political enemies.

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