The Plot To Assassinate Arpaio

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

Based on the evidence released to date, Saville appears to have a chance of proving he was entrapped.

While Saville has committed serious crimes in the past, he has never been charged with violent crime against a person and has given no indication beyond jailhouse boasts that he would intentionally hurt someone.

Saville's public defender, Ulises Ferragut, said he would prepare a vigorous entrapment defense.

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 seems to me the job of the sheriff's department is to prevent crime, not create crime. In this case, this is exactly what they have done. On their own they have created a crime. But there is no crime here. They have tried to create a crime and that is very alarming," Ferragut said.

The former law professor said he was excited about the opportunity to use an entrapment defense for the first time in his career.

"When everything comes out, I think the public is going to understand there is a lot more to this case," he says. "I think the public is going to be outraged and say this kid is innocent."

Saville, meanwhile, is being closely monitored by the sheriff's department. Hendershott issued an unusual memo on July 10, instructing that he be immediately alerted about "anyone inquiring about inmate Saville" including the media, calls and visits from family and visits from his attorney.

While Saville has some possibly strong defenses, he faces an uphill battle. He agreed to build a potentially lethal device in exchange for money. Prior to assembling the pipe bomb, he also was led to believe it was intended for Sheriff Arpaio.

Saville claimed the enticement of the money and the fear that Yancy was really a mobster kept him in the plot. Amazingly, Saville says in his interrogation he felt that it was an even chance that Yancy was an undercover cop.

Nevertheless, Saville said he didn't want to back out of the deal given the chance that Yancy might really be a mobster.

"I figured it was 50-50 chance that he was a cop and I didn't want to take the chance that he wasn't," Saville said.

Saville told detective Jacobs he never planned to kill Arpaio.

"I wasn't gonna kill Joe. I mean, yeah, of course you know I'm going away for it. Just between you and me, I never would kill anyone," he said.

"You just talk big?" Jacobs asked.

"Yeah, I talk big, I mean I probably made a comment that I was gonna kill the president, I can't do that. I probably said that."

"Do you know it's against the law to make threats?" Jacobs asked.

"Yeah, but, well, when the threats are in prison I thought they were just . . . threats to be popular and shit," Saville said.

Days after Saville was arrested, the prison snitch Burrows told a DOC investigator that he believed Saville had been "entrapped."

Contact John Dougherty at his online address:

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