The Plot To Assassinate Arpaio

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

Saville called Yancy later that evening from a pay phone inside the prison. Details of that conversation have not been released.

After returning to his cell, Saville apparently told Burrows about the call. Records indicate that the conversation about Saville's phone call to Yancy "is very rich" but provides no details.

The next morning, July 7, Burrows met again with detectives.

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.

"It was explained to [Burrows] that at this point he needed to let Saville do the talking about making a bomb and killing somebody," the detectives' report states.

Detectives told Burrows to avoid conversation about what Yancy wanted done and to only stress to Saville the importance of calling Yancy once he left prison.

Burrows said that he never told Saville "exactly what Yancy would want a bomb built for" -- though he raised the possibility the bomb could be for Arpaio. Burrows told the investigators that Saville told him he would take credit for killing Arpaio, according to Dougherty's report.

Surveillance records indicate that Burrows "sheds light on killing Sheriff Joe and tells Saville he [Saville] would be loved." Burrows told Saville about the big party he'd throw after Saville blew up Arpaio. Burrows asked Saville "what his theme song is going to be when he blows up Sheriff Joe."

Later that day, Saville started talking about the "bomb job" and inquiring about getting paid and set up in an apartment. The surveillance tapes state that Saville "sounds like he is possibly getting anxious."

Burrows tried to soothe Saville, telling him that Yancy may think the bomb is "worth a lot more money."

After a recreation break, Burrows once again brought up the bombing.

"You want to kill Joe. So does he [Yancy]," Burrows said, according to surveillance records.

Saville mentioned that he wanted a parade in his honor after he killed Arpaio. Burrows told Saville that after he killed Arpaio, "he will be a big hero."

The next day, July 8, Saville was released.

"[Burrows] told target he'll look for the news on Sheriff Joe being blown up," surveillance records state.

The Sting

Saville was tailed by deputies from the moment he left the prison at 12:52 p.m. on July 8.

Saville checked in with his probation officer, at 1:23 p.m., before heading to his father's residence, where he picked up some clothes. Saville went to his stepsister's house trailer and spent the night.

The next morning, at 7, he hopped on a bicycle and picked up job applications at Circle K, Chevron, Walgreens, Albertsons and Diamond Key before returning to his stepsister's trailer around 8:15.

It's not clear when Saville and Yancy talked again. But less than an hour later, Saville met Yancy at a McDonald's. The two departed at 9:15 and drove in Yancy's Chevy Tahoe to different stores to purchase parts to build a pipe bomb. Yancy gave Saville $200 to make the purchases.

Yancy emphasized that the current endeavor was serious.

"I'm telling you, you realize how, I mean this shit is serious, the one we're doing now, you understand that, right? . . . It's gotta go right, otherwise we're fucked, you, I mean you . . ." Yancy said, according to transcripts.

Saville wasn't certain of his ability to build the bomb.

"Yeah, that's why, well, if it doesn't work, I want to make, that's why I'm working with, you know, it's taking a long time to get all these . . ."

Moments later, Saville said: "Yeah, so you know, I mean what we're doing, it's fuckin' serious."

"It'll, it'll pay off," Yancy replied.

"Well, I would have done it for free," Saville replied.

Yancy laughed.

"I mean, if you hadn't called me, 'cause I mean I would of [sic] possibly just ended up blowing somebody up, you know," Saville said.

"God," Yancy replied.

Saville would later claim his brash statements were made to convince Yancy he knew what he was doing.

Saville told investigators he was running a sting of his own. He said his goal was to get paid $2,000 for partially assembling the bomb, an up-front payment that Yancy had promised, then abscond with the money.

Yancy asked Saville if he was concerned about going after a public figure.

"The way I look at it, I'm just gonna give you ah, ah, [the] box. Do whatever you want with it," Saville replied.

Yancy asked Saville if it bothered him to want to kill Katz and Blake.

"Oh, no. I mean, that would give me joy," Saville replied.

"Kill 'em would give you joy?" Yancy asked.

"Yeah," Saville said.

After getting the parts, the men went to Los Olivos Hotel on McDowell Road at 1:17 p.m. Yancy ushered Saville into a room equipped with hidden video and audio recorders.

The videotape shows Saville beginning to assemble a pipe bomb -- a procedure Saville claims he's only done in his mind.

Yancy gave Saville a chance to stop.

"Before you start, you don't want to back out, right?" Yancy said, laughing.

Saville's response was unintelligible. But he appeared intent on constructing the device. According to their agreement, someone else would put it on Arpaio's car.

A few minutes later, Saville told Yancy he hoped Arpaio "opens this package." Saville described how he had placed the pipe bomb inside the box so that if the sheriff opens it, the end caps on the pipe will blast into the sheriff.

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