Sheriff Joe's Real Estate Game

Arpaio's invested $690,000 in cash in two commercial properties since 1995. Some other investment records are sealed.

Even if Arpaio managed to save up $690,000 in cash (or inherited the money or won the lottery), why would he invest so much of it in two small projects? He could have spread that money around and purchased additional property. After all, the golden rule of commercial real estate investment is to use other people's money.

This means, invest as little of your own money as possible and borrow the rest, particularly when interest rates are low. Then, use the money collected from leasing the property to pay the mortgage. Whatever interest is paid is always deductible on income taxes. A few years down the road, sell the property and pocket the profit.

It's a pretty simple formula that has generated billions of dollars of profits for commercial real estate investors in the Phoenix area over the last decade.

Microphone man: Arpaio in a familiar pose.
Jackie Mercandetti
Microphone man: Arpaio in a familiar pose.
Ka-ching: You can even buy a Joe bobblehead doll.
Claudia Ward
Ka-ching: You can even buy a Joe bobblehead doll.

Why is Arpaio doing the opposite in his commercial real estate deals made through his and his wife's company, AVA Investment Corp.?

On April 14, 1995, Joe and Ava Arpaio paid $250,000 cash for two adjoining commercial spaces in a strip mall just northwest of the primo intersection of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard. The Arpaios lease the spaces at 10612 North 71st Place to the Bravo Salon.

Arpaio never disclosed this purchase on his personal financial statement that elected officials are required to submit annually to the Maricopa County Clerk's Office. Instead, he just added the square footage of this property to a space he already owned next door.

The Bravo Salon is immediately north of a space Arpaio purchased in December 1993. This space is leased to Tuxedo Express at 10610 North 71st Place. I have no idea how much Arpaio paid for this property. That's because the records have been purged from the recorder's files.

Arpaio made an even bigger investment a few years later. On April 15, 2002, Joe and Ava dumped $440,000 in cash into a two-story commercial property across the street from the sheriff's substation in Fountain Hills. The 6,000-square-foot office building is at 16743 East Palisades Drive and is leased to several businesses.

The Fountain Hills investment came about a year after Joe and Ava sold their tract home near 67th Street and Thunderbird Road and purchased a faux-adobe in upscale Fountain Hills. The real estate records on both the sale of his old home and the purchase of the new one have also been redacted from the recorder's office.

It's safe to say that Joe and Ava aren't slumming it.

Their nest on North Via Del Sol has lake and mountain views and is surrounded by desert landscaping. Two neighboring homes sold in the $350,000 range in 2001. Did Joe pay cash for his new home?

There's more.

Joe and Ava own four more commercial spaces in that Scottsdale strip mall, called Sundown Plaza. All of these properties were purchased before Arpaio became sheriff. However, most of the real estate records related to the properties have also been purged.

Did Arpaio purchase these properties with cash as well, or were their mortgages later paid off after he became sheriff? Arpaio reports on his personal financial disclosure statement that he has at least $200,000 in equity in these properties.

I asked the sheriff's office on June 22 to produce all of Arpaio's real estate records for New Times' inspection. In my letter to Sheriff's Public Information Officer Lisa Allen MacPherson, I noted it was okay to black out Arpaio's home address, since that is all the law is intended to protect.

No one from Joe's joint on the 19th floor of the Wells Fargo tower in downtown Phoenix has responded to my request.

The stonewalling raises a huge red flag.

Joe's become a worldwide marketing commodity on the backs of prisoners. His name recognition translates into political and financial power. He's sold books and movie rights to his life story. Tens of thousands of pairs of pink underwear have been sold, generating huge amounts of cash. Because of sloppy accounting, nobody knows how much revenue this one thing has brought in. The sheriff's office budget has been a mess for years, with no independent, outside audit on the horizon.

Now, it turns out, Joe has been dabbling in real estate in some of the most expensive parts of town. He's investing large amounts of cash, violating the cardinal rule of commercial real estate. And nearly all the records of his wheeling and dealing are conveniently sealed.

Come on, Joe! You're the "toughest sheriff in America." How about sitting down and showing us all of your real estate records? Tax returns would be nice, too. While you're at it, bring Hendershott's records, as well.

Explain to us where you -- a retired federal civil servant and county employee -- come up with so much cold, hard cash.

Otherwise, even one of your lamebrained posse members might think you're hiding something.

Repercussions continue in the wake of Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley's recent decision to dismiss charges against nearly 60 women arrested in Sheriff Joe's ludicrous undercover investigation in which deputies and posse men got naked and frisky with alleged hookers.

Contrary to the sheriff's office's vigorous assertions that it's common for undercover officers to strip down in the course of a vice investigation, I've stumbled across sworn testimony by the sheriff's top aide that suggests otherwise.

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pension funds

Nice post..thanks,When the pensioned employee retires, she or he can ask for the entire pension in one lump sum or can take the pension as an annuity, which is aseries of payments that lasts for a specified period of time. If the retiree lives long enough, she or he will receive more money than the employer originally withheld.

Hedy Trevino
Hedy Trevino

I want to thank the phx new times for their hard work and relentless effort's to expose the truth. i have always been a big fan of this paper. long before SB 1070 became a 'public issue' this paper was on the job alerting us all that trouble was brewing. thank you for all do. thank you for never backing down. thank you for your integrity in reporting. Hedy Trevino


I just cannot wait to see this bastard end up in federal jail. If he has nothing to hide about his finances then he needs to be open about it. What is he scared of if he did nothing wrong? And its not really the amount of money, its the way it is being moved around and being purposefully hidden from the eyes of the public. This man is in a position that has a very large chance of corruption, therefore, he needs to be as open about his dealings as possible. He is a civil servant, and as an upstanding law-abiding citizen myself I want to make sure that the people doling out justice are actually doing their job, as opposed to some personal vendetta.


I love this article. Sheriff Joe needs to go. Hes an egotistical maniac and although I agree with him some on inmate treatment, I think he is only out for himself as your article so excellently depics!

Time for there to be a new Sheriff in town. Feel free to email me anytime if it pertains to removing the "Lamest Sheriff in America".

The people voting him into office are the half dead scared people called the Blue Hair Community!

People believe the hype and dont even realize what a con artist Arpaio really is. Unfortunately he will be dead by the time hes out of office and a full investigation is launched. At 72 your days are numbered!

Teresa McDonough
Teresa McDonough

I am so sick of every one flapping their lipping their lips and only hot air coming out. Did you ever stop to THINK, about INVESTMENT. HUM, do you know that word. Uncle Joe wasn't always a Sheriff for Maricopia County. He has Retired once already. But I will not disclose that information to you or anyone else cause it ain't your business. About the propertys, well have you ever heard of the word PROFIT? Well the mean of this word is to make money. So let's look at this, make money from PROFIT sell building get PROFIT,INVEST into other Property. Anyone can see where I'm going with this. My Father use to work construction and he invested his money and he own a Resturant, 2 houses,and a apartment building and was one of the wealthes man in my home town. He quit school when he was 13. I think was it comes down to is that you have a thorne stuck sideways where the sun don't shine and you wish that you could be Like MY UNCLE JOE. As far as Ava, You just leave her out it, SHE is A FINE, KIND HEARTED,WOMAN,UPSTANDING,WOULD NEVER HURT ANYONE. I saw the parade on TV and it look like to me that every one was happy to SEE Sheriff Joe & Ava Arprio. Cheer's after Cheer's so what's up with that. In closeing I only have to say I just see people that are jealouse who don't know how to INVEST their MONEY,Don't like the way UNCLE JOE is a fine and upstanding Lawman sticks to his guns and don't take no crap from ANYONE, and you are probably one who has been locked up by him. Just like to spread rumors and lies around to make your self look good. But in the eyes of GOD you are ugly and you will have to make up for all this before you are allow in the gates of heaven. You or noone else has the right to know Uncle Joe or Aunt Ava personal address or even know about their persaonal life and what and how the spend their money. What do you follow them around day and night. Your kind of people are sick. DON"T YOU HAVE A LIFE?? GET ONE!!

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