The Plot To Assassinate Arpaio

It was a diabolical scheme. Problem is, most of it was hatched by the Sheriff's Office.

Dougherty wrote that Burrows "continued to stress on how real he thought the threats were against Judge Katz and Jim Blake. He felt the threats on Sheriff Arpaio were just as real, but talked about the threats on Judge Katz and Jim Blake much more."

The detectives asked Burrows "if he felt he [Saville] was just as serious about the threats on Sheriff Arpaio as he was about the other two and [Burrows] felt that Saville was. He explained that Judge Katz and Jim Blake were a revenge type thing and Sheriff Arpaio was more notoriety."

Conversation between Burrows and Saville bore little fruit until the evening of July 5, when records indicate the two men began "discussing how to rig a bomb on a car so that when it starts it blows."

Sheriff Joe Arpaio puts on his tough-guy show for the press.
photos by Paolo Vescia
Sheriff Joe Arpaio puts on his tough-guy show for the press.
James Saville was out of prison one day before being arrested.
Paolo Vescia
James Saville was out of prison one day before being arrested.

Saville reportedly said "he would like to stick a pipe in the spokes of Sheriff Joe's motorcycle" and then mentioned "that he would like just to shoot him."

Saville said he wanted to deliver a poisoned pizza to Arpaio's house. "He would deliver it to his house and when he [Arpaio] said he didn't order it, give it to him for free," surveillance reports state.

The conversation shifted to "how to frame someone else if a bomb was used." Ever the pyromaniac, Saville stated "that if he did kill someone and was about to get caught he would blow himself up."

The talk ended around 11 p.m. when Saville said that it couldn't be that hard to get the sheriff.

"[Burrows] tried to get the suspect to talk more about it and the suspect told [Burrows] to 'Go to sleep.'"

The next day, July 6, Burrows was again taken from his cell to meet with detectives. Burrows said that Saville was talking more but that most of their conversations were taking place while they were in a recreation area and were not recorded.

Burrows said that Saville discussed ways to get the prosecutor. Again, detectives appeared frustrated with the lack of details of Saville's plan to kill Arpaio.

"I explained to [Burrows] that we knew a lot about his plan for Judge Katz and Jim Blake, but as we asked him before we needed more information on Sheriff Arpaio," Dougherty wrote.

The detective's report stated that Burrows said, "Arpaio, he wants to hit but he [Saville] does not know when he wants to do anything. [Burrows] said he tried to find out when he was going to do anything. Saville just says he cannot do anything because he knows he is going to be watched when he gets out, due to the materials found in his cell."

Then, according to Dougherty's report, Burrows said that "Saville has talked about how he can get the things he needs for bombs by breaking back into schools."

"At this point we asked [Burrows] if he thought Saville would be interested in a person that could get the items for him, instead of having to break into schools," Dougherty wrote.

Burrows said Saville would be interested. Burrows also stated that Saville might be interested in a "murder for hire" deal that would net him enough money to skip out on probation.

Dougherty wrote that he asked Burrows whether Saville would make a deal with an undercover officer posing as one of Burrow's friends. The friend, "Yancy," would be depicted as someone who hates Arpaio.

"After this," Dougherty told Burrows to "explain to Saville that Yancy has a lot of money and maybe he [Saville] could make a bomb for him."

Dougherty gave Burrows the undercover officer's number, and "it was explained to Burrows to get Saville to call the number."

Burrows immediately went to work on Saville.

Surveillance records from July 7 indicate Burrows told Saville he wanted to talk to him during recreation about whether Saville was interested in making a few thousand dollars after his release, which was scheduled in two days.

Burrows told Saville he had a friend who wanted Saville to build him a "package."

Saville "said why didn't you say so? I can make 10 of those," surveillance records show.

"[Burrows] said his friend hates Joe. Target [Saville] said he would make a good one. Burrows offering 3-4 thousand for bomb. . . . [Burrows] says that friend will set him [Saville] up with more jobs," records state.

Surveillance records indicate that Saville was "hesitant about a face to face with friend."

Saville stated he wanted to see money and would need a fake passport.

Burrows told Saville that his friend was involved in contract murders.

"Are you my man?" Burrows asked.

Saville replied that he could build the bomb.

Burrows told Saville that his friend's name was Yancy. Surveillance records note that Saville again appeared to be hesitant.

"Target worried about taking out Joe," records state.

Nevertheless, Saville agreed to call Yancy. Saville also told Burrows he was worried that he'd be followed by his probation officer. Burrows simply told Saville "not to worry about it."

At 7:46 p.m., Burrows passed Yancy's phone number to Saville.

Saville started commenting on tools and explosives he had. He talked about selling the bomb, and wanted to know if he would have to place it on the car. Burrows, meanwhile, kept insisting that Saville contact Yancy as soon as he was released.

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