Head on a skewer: Joe Arpaio was so obsessed with getting a hard-charging New Times writer prosecuted that he badgered Andy Thomas into making a fool of himself

On May 2, 2005, a prosecutor and an investigator at the Maricopa County Attorney's Office asked senior staffers to review a potentially landmark criminal case against a local journalist.

Phil MacDonnell, second-in-command to County Attorney Andrew Thomas (who had assumed office five months earlier), gave the okay for the agency's Incident Review Board to evaluate the case against John Dougherty, a veteran reporter then at New Times.

It had started with a Dougherty column published in July 2004 partially about Sheriff Joe Arpaio's refusal to release financial details about his surprisingly extensive real estate holdings.

Former New Times reporter John Dougherty
Former New Times reporter John Dougherty
Joe Arpaio's director of communications, Lisa Allen, confronted John Dougherty outside a county jail in 2004. "So sue us!" she said when he asked about public records the MCSO was illegally withholding.
Joe Arpaio's director of communications, Lisa Allen, confronted John Dougherty outside a county jail in 2004. "So sue us!" she said when he asked about public records the MCSO was illegally withholding.

Dougherty concluded his opinion piece by revealing Arpaio's home address in Fountain Hills. Actually, "revealing" might be the wrong word. Because the location of the sheriff's residence is available all over the Internet — including on government Web sites, people-search sites, and even (at one time) on a Republican Party site.

The prosecutors had to decide whether publication of the address on the New Times Web site had violated May 1999 legislation signed into law by Governor Jane Hull. And if it had, would a jury vote to convict the reporter?

The law made it a felony to put addresses and other personal data of police officers on the Internet — if that information posed an "immediate and serious threat" to the officers and if the person who published had meant for it to be a threat.

It still was okay to publish that same information in newspapers and magazines and to report it on television or on the radio.

In April 2005, John Stolze, a respected investigator with Thomas' office, had drawn the sticky assignment of looking into what became known as the "Dougherty matter." That was nine months after publication of the column containing the sheriff's home address.

According to files recently released to New Times by the County Attorney's Office, Stolze got involved after MCSO Lieutenant Ray Jones (commander of Arpaio's Selective Enforcement Unit) alleged: "Sheriff Arpaio is afraid and concerned for his and his wife's safety, because of the actions of Dougherty."

The files show that Arpaio made his feelings about Dougherty known to County Attorney Thomas in their first official meeting soon after Thomas assumed office in January 2005.

But after familiarizing themselves with the previously unused and legally untested law, Stolze and others came to believe that the section about an "imminent and serious threat" would be tough for prosecutors to overcome, among other issues.

How, they wondered, could Arpaio claim such a pressing "threat" when he hadn't tried to seek redress for months after the fact and when nothing threatening had happened to him in the interim?

"Lieutenant Jones related that MCSO did not request an investigation until April 2005, nine months later, because Sheriff Joe did not want to make it look like it was politically connected," prosecutor Liz Gilbert and Stolze's supervisor, Mark Stribling, wrote in their May 2004 internal memorandum, referring to Arpaio's successful November 2004 re-election bid.

"Underlying problems with case: The nine-month time delay to report the incident . . . and showing that Sheriff Arpaio was in fear for his safety. The fact that Sheriff Arpaio's home address, Social Security number, and other personal information [are] available to the public via the Internet from numerous Web sites. Note: Sheriff Joe and John Dougherty are involved in a long-standing ongoing feud and civil suit.

"High-profile case," they concluded. "Sheriff Joe Arpaio is demanding that this case be charged. Sheriff Arpaio has several high-level employees calling Liz Gilbert to see when this case will be filed. Latest call indicated that there would be problems between the Sheriff's Office and the County Attorney's Office if this case is not charged."

The newly released files and other sources of information suggest that personnel in Andy Thomas' office played it straight with the Dougherty probe — at least at the start.

They did so despite repeated appeals by Arpaio to the new county attorney for action, and an onslaught of paperwork by sheriff's official Ronald Lebowitz, an attorney, urging Dougherty's criminal prosecution.

Instead, the Incident Review Board apparently declined in August 2005 to recommend prosecution under the 1999 Internet publication law — which calls for fines and a possible prison sentence.

The use of "apparently" is necessary because paperwork from the panel's August 9 meeting wasn't included in the records recently released to New Times under the state's Public Records Law.

But four people familiar with what happened at the meeting tell the paper that the consensus of the 13 board members was that, even if Dougherty had broken the law, convicting him would be difficult.

One main hitch was that Arpaio's home address was available across the Net. And, just as important, how could prosecutors prove that the reporter's aim in publishing the address was to get someone to do harm to Joe Arpaio or his family?

Andy Thomas could have overridden his Incident Review Board and insisted on a prosecution. Instead, two weeks after the board met, Thomas asked then-Pinal County Attorney Carter Olson to assume the case because of an unspecified "conflict of interest."

Almost two years passed without Olson's office taking action.

Then, early last summer, Jim Walsh became the new Pinal County attorney after Carter Olson won a spot on that county's Superior Court bench. Walsh soon declared his own conflict of interest in the protracted Doughterty case.

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23 comments
Joemustgo
Joemustgo

SEEING HOW PEOPLE ARE AFRAID OF WHAT JOE ARPAIO AND OTHER POLICE AGENCIES WILL DO IF THEY STAND UP, LOOK AT ME, MY LIFE HAS BEEN ALL BUT DESTROYED BY THESE PEOPLE, BEEN PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED, AND THEIR ATTEMPTS AT BREAKING ME, AS ONE OFFICER PUT IT, THEY DIDN'T BREAK ME, BUT THEY TRIED TO DESTROY MY B USINESSES, AND TRIED TO DESTROY MY LIFE, EVEN AIDED IN FRAUD EMBEZZLMENT AND EXTORTION ATTEMPTS BY MY EX WIFE....WHAT KIND OF LAW ENFORCEMENT IIS THIS, IT'S NOT, IT IS REDICULOUS AND DESPERATELY NEEDING TRUE CONSTITUTIONAL JUSTICE, FOR WHICH WILL TAKE EVERYONE STANDING UP AND FIGHTING TOGETHER..

Name withheld
Name withheld

People need to start thinking about who the real criminals are in all the election activity of overzealous law enforcement by the Sheriff and the County Attorney. Every election year brings their 24/7 grandstanding at taxpayers and society's expense. I think the quality of life in Arizona and Maricopa County has spiraled downward in the last 5 years. Power, money and numbers are all that matter to the elected officials who do not care about people or their families. The future looks grim as we approach a civil war in a prison state. There are no safe neighborhoods here as long as law enforcement abuses their power.

Living in Fear
Living in Fear

Coz, thanks for adding more information and helping sort through the Arpaio and Thomas messes. We look forward to reading your comments since you obviously have first hand experience. People don't realize how vulnerable they are to being thrown into Arpaio's jails and the criminal justice system. Since Arpaio has stated he doesn't care who he arrests, then people, just watch out when you get a broken taillight or you are coming out of an area restaurant, mall, church or anyplace violent criminals avoid. You are an easy target for the Sheriff and his posse. They know where the money is and who to grab.

Coz
Coz

LOL.....

http://www.eastvalleytribune.c... and didn�t see it posted yet.

March 23, 2008 - 7:39PM Arpaio may be bending state rules Dennis Welch, Tribune Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is using a loophole in state retirement rules to keep his most loyal deputies on the payroll after they've retired and accepted lucrative pensions and bonuses. In just the past year, Arpaio has rehired four top-level chiefs into civilian jobs. The four received retirement bonuses that paid them nearly $300,000 to more than $500,000 apiece. The sheriff says the men were the most qualified for the jobs. But critics say Arpaio, who is running for re-election, is keeping on key people who have helped him in previous campaigns. Law enforcement personnel are included in a state program called Deferred Retirement Option Plan, a retirement alternative commonly known as DROP. The program was started to encourage officers to stay on the job even beyond the 20-year mark. Once an officer enters DROP, he or she can stay in the program for up to five years. During their last five years, the money they would have received from their pension is socked away into an account earning up to 8.5 percent interest. After they take that money as a one-time bonus, they must leave the department as a sworn officer. The law does not bar them from returning to a civilian job. But that's a loophole other Valley police chiefs say they are wary of using because it sidesteps the intent of state retirement law and can cause morale problems within police agencies because younger employees can't move up. Over the 18 months, four of Arpaio's most experienced chiefs were forced to leave after taking the DROP bonus. In the past, other top deputies have become so-called double dippers - retiring and taking a pension and then rehired by MCSO - but these four did so under the lucrative DROP program and were hired into civilian positions. According to state and county records Jesse Locksa got $576,000 in the one-time payment, Larry Black received $386,000, Tim Overton was paid $445,000, and Rollie Seebert got $270,000. With the exception of Seebert, all had entered DROP in 2002 and stayed the full five years. Seebert entered Jan. 1, 2003 and left Nov. 1, 2006. Each was earning more than $100,000 per year when they retired and now collect pensions as high as $90,000 per year. Each was hired back almost immediately in a civilian administrative job. Black and Locksa started their new jobs the same day they retired. Seebert retired the day after Thanksgiving 2006 and was back at work on the following Monday. The positions are titled "operations manager" and pay $70,000 to $80,000, according to information provided by the county finance department and the sheriff's office. Combined with their pensions, the former deputies maintain annual incomes well over $100,000. None of the four would talk to the Tribune, according to Capt. Paul Chagolla, the sheriff's spokesman. Arpaio said the four deputies - who have contributed cash to the sheriff's past political campaigns and collected thousands of signatures needed to get him on the ballot - were the most experienced and best qualified applicants for the civilian jobs. "It's their right to put in for any job opening and I think I'm getting these guys, with all that experience, at bargain prices," Arpaio said. "I can't think of anyone more qualified for these jobs." Chagolla said the jobs were advertised for five days. But they attracted few applicants, he said, despite their high pay. Chagolla could not say where the jobs were listed. And he wouldn't say who else put in for them. Chagolla also wouldn't say who held the civilian posts before the four former deputies. Because the former employees no longer work for the government, the department is not required to reveal their names, he said. Arpaio did say the four former deputies now have varying responsibilities as "operations managers." Seebert and Overton were hired to train younger deputies in various duties while Locksa was put in charge of communications, Arpaio said. He was less forthcoming when it came to Black, his former chief of enforcement. "It has to do with homeland security and that's all I'm going to say about that," Arpaio said. In the past, all four had directed critical functions of the sheriff's department, Arpaio said, adding they were familiar with many aspects of the department from managing the jails to overseeing the sheriff's threat squad. In addition to their law enforcement duties, the four also demonstrated their political dedication to Arpaio over the years. A review of the sheriff's campaign finance records show they were among the most active volunteers in Arpaio's political machine. Together, the four deputies and their family members have contributed thousands of dollars to Arpaio's political coffers, some as far back as the early 1990s. Perhaps more importantly, Locksa, Seebert and Overton were key to getting Arpaio's name on the ballot for re-election in 2004. They worked political functions, approached people on the street and at other public places to round up thousands of signatures from registered voters for nominating petitions, required before any candidate can be on a ballot. Locksa alone collected nearly 1,100 signatures, according to a review of petition signature sheets at the Maricopa County Recorder's office. Chuck Coughlin, a GOP consultant, called that an "astounding" accomplishment that would have taken an incredible amount of time and energy. "It certainly shows his dedication," Coughlin said. By collecting the signatures, Arpaio's deputies saved the campaign money, Coughlin said. Professional signature gatherers are paid about $1.50 to $2 per name. The recorder's office doesn't keep signature petitions beyond five years, so records for previous election campaigns weren't available. Other Valley police chiefs say they are very cautious about rehiring former sworn officers. A former Phoenix police Chief left the Phoenix department through the DROP program and was rehired under the newly created title of public safety manager, a civilian post that essentially functions as the chief. But Chandler police Chief Sherry Kiyler said her department recently decided against bringing back officers once they've taken their DROP bonus. She said the officers know the deal when the they get in to DROP - once they get paid they have to leave. It was a decision that both the department and the city agreed on. "We didn't want people coming back after DROP, that wasn't its intent," she said. She said she would consider rehiring officers with unique talents, but that issue hasn't come up. Mesa police Chief George Gasc�oesn't rule out rehiring officers after they get their DROP payment, but he's never done it since he's been in Mesa, more than two years. He said he worries about the negative effect it could have on the department. "I'd be concerned about stagnation within the organization," he said. If employees in the department feel there's no room to advance it could demoralize them - something no police department wants, he said. Gasc�aid he's not aware of any officers attempting to come back after taking their DROP payment. Members of the Maricopa County Deputies Association declined to speak about Arpaio's hiring practices or any other issue for fear of reprisal by the sheriff, said Dale Norris, an attorney who represents the deputies union. But other police union representatives in the Valley are particularly critical of the sheriff, saying he has long used political loyalty as a litmus test for his deputies. "This is all about keeping his people in place," said officer Joe McAuliffe, treasurer of the Chandler Law Enforcement Association, the city's police union. McAuliffe pointed to the mass transfer of more than 300 sheriff's officers who supported Arpaio's political opponent - former Mesa police Cmdr. Dan Saban - soon after the 2004 election. "It's not like he hasn't done this before," McAuliffe said. Of the officers transferred, 140 were sworn deputies while the rest were jail guards. Arpaio has said those employees' political allegiances had nothing to do with the move. However, such large-scale reassignments are nearly unprecedented in law enforcement, the Tribune reported as part of an investigation into the shake-up. That is the type of action by the sheriff's department that keeps members of the deputies union from speaking publicly, Norris noted. Norris doesn't see anything wrong with hiring back retired deputies, but said it should be based on qualifications and merit. "If they are getting paid back for their work politically then that's wrong," he said.

Coz
Coz

Thank you for showing all of us how stupid some people are in Maricopa County.You have shown us an example far above all others with your post.

>>John Dougherty is a vile and repulsive man. He is a drunk and cannot possibly know the truth from a lie. He broke the law. If he was honorable, shouldn't he stand up and demand to be prosecuted under the law he broke. Well, why would he, the new times publishers broke the law, and when arrested claimed that the Sheriff violated their civil rights. But they did, even admittedly, break the law, effectively putting every Arizona Citizen at risk. What civil right was violated? The first ammendment does not guarantee any right to violate the law. It also does not grant the right to lie and mislead the public just as the new times has been doing for years. The streets are safer because of Joe Arpaio. He has done a fantastic job and hopefully will continue to do so.Comment by AZ Citizen � March 24, 2008 @ 11:09PM

AZ Citizen
AZ Citizen

John Dougherty is a vile and repulsive man. He is a drunk and cannot possibly know the truth from a lie. He broke the law. If he was honorable, shouldn't he stand up and demand to be prosecuted under the law he broke. Well, why would he, the new times publishers broke the law, and when arrested claimed that the Sheriff violated their civil rights. But they did, even admittedly, break the law, effectively putting every Arizona Citizen at risk. What civil right was violated? The first ammendment does not guarantee any right to violate the law. It also does not grant the right to lie and mislead the public just as the new times has been doing for years. The streets are safer because of Joe Arpaio. He has done a fantastic job and hopefully will continue to do so.

Concerned Citizen2
Concerned Citizen2

Hunting down an investigative reporter by the Sheriff and all the power he has access to, is chilling. Makes one wonder who killed AZ reporter Bolles (Arizona Report),if there is this kind of obsession to destroy John Dougherty. The Phoenix New Times and their investigative reporters are very courageous for not backing down. We are paying attention and will vote against them.

Concerned AZ Voter
Concerned AZ Voter

The area has changed for the worse in the last five years. We will vote out the officials who have abused their power, written poor policy and laws that have dramatically changed what was once a fine place to live. It's time for change.We're voting for Gerald Richard for County Attorney and Dan Saban for Sheriff andhope you all do the same.

Paying Attention
Paying Attention

#1 comment by Coz says it all -- we will take your advice and vote them all out in the next election and also actively campaign against them.

Concerned Voter
Concerned Voter

John Dougherty is courageous and has done much to help the people of Arizona understand what we are facing, when the elected and appointed officials are so corrupted by their power, that they don't care who they destroy. Silencing and singling out a paper who is not in "lock-step" with all the others, who speak as "one voice"(fed by media driven sheriff and the county attorney) only makes one realize how corrupt the county and state are. We commend John Dougherty and Phoenix New Times for the courage to speak out as a voice for those who have been silenced in fear.

Coz
Coz

Joe a hero ?Maybe in Communist China........

Mike
Mike

Everyone, if you are serious and want this group out of office, GET OUT AND VOTE!!! Heck, the county even makes it super easy. Go to https://recorder.maricopa.gov/... and get a ballot miled to your house so you can fill it out and mail it in and avoid the long lines. Let's get everyone to this site and let's do something about it this year.

AZ Native
AZ Native

Joe must go! He is as corrupt as they come. Get integrity and honesty back in the MCSO. What ever happened to the public records request, the story didn't say what was the end result. Az voters stop putting Arpaio in office, once your in his sights, your his prey too. He's just a publicity hound, and gets nothing done. Even McCain didn't support him in the last election. Joe must go!

Curious Citizen
Curious Citizen

Hey look New Times, it's your buddy Israel Correa, being charged with a home invasion hoax. We all tried to tell you guys that his arrest by the MCSO was an intentional publicity stunt hoax too, but you wouldn't listen. You pro-illegals will fall for anything. You guys are so irresponsibly knee jerk for liberal causes it's embarrassing. Sorry, but you owe your readers better.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/...

Activist accused of home-invasion hoaxJJ HensleyThe Arizona RepublicMar. 20, 2008 01:00 PM

A Phoenix man is in jail after filing what police claim was a false report about a home invasion.

According to Phoenix Police, Israel Correa, 28, a Valley activist who's had frequent run-ins with law enforcement, filed a police report on Wednesday alleging that a home invasion occurred at his house, in the 2100 block of West Madison St.

The target of the police report was Carlos Mendoza, a justice of the peace, according to friends of Mendoza.

Police investigated the report through the night and went to Mendoza's house early Thursday morning, detaining the judge and some family members while they investigated, said Don Smith, a Mendoza acquaintance.

The investigation ended about 6 a.m. when Correa's girlfriend admitted the report was a hoax, police say.

Mendoza, a judge in the downtown Justice Court, and Correa, an occasional figure in the Valley's immigrant rights movement, have a series of long standing personal disputes.

Each has filed a series of injunctions against harassment and restraining orders against the other over the past few years, according to court documents.

The two were once friends but had a falling out over a disputed $6,000 in rent payments when Correa was Mendoza's tenant, according to court documents.

Native Arizonan since 1956
Native Arizonan since 1956

Gary, your comments shed needed light on the party line mentality of voters. MOST vote for the candidate from their party, regardless of the candidate's worthiness. SOME actually cross party lines and vote for the most worthy and qualified candidate. This requires some examination and assessment of the candidate(s) and their views on a variety of issues. Apparently this is too much work for the party line voters. They just follow like sheep to the slaughter; no investigation or thinking required.God help us!

Gary Klahr
Gary Klahr

As I have said before, you can NOT beat Joe at the polls this year by a Democrat; the ONLY time Demos win county offices is when the Republican incumbent is under Indictment (eg. Assessor Milt Novkov). There was an EASY way to dispose of the Sheriff 4 years ago---but you politically-naive people never realized it. Saban ran a close race in the REPUBLICAN primary then; if more Demos had re-registered as Indxependents then ---as I did---and voted in the Republican primary, Saban would be our Sheriff NOW; but apparently no one but me "caught on" to Joe's political troubles caused by 2 factors ---1) His endorsement in 2002 of Janet over Matt Salmon for Guv which infuriated right-wing Republicans who previously had always voted for Joe; 2) The long-known Az political fact that in GOP PRIMARIES out here, only those kind of Republicans turn out to vote (that is why so many supporters of Mecham's impeachment were defeated in the 1988 Republican primaries for legislative seats---and indeed is the reason Mecham beat Burton Barr for Guv in the 1986 GOP primary).

SO LIVE AND LEARN---Joe will be re-elected; you guys HAD your chance 4 years ago and blew it; Saban will probably lose by only 5 points---Joe's closest race yet with a Demo---but FOUR MORE YEARS of Joe can be expected. /gpk

Coz
Coz

Sorry to rant, but every time I read this, it infuriates me.These guys are such pricks. We all have to abide by the law while they are allowed to flaunt it while breaking it. Amazing�..

John Dougherty is an honorable man. He didn�t deserve any of this either.

Joe has got to Go in 2008.Vote Saban !

Coz
Coz

If there's room in thre bus, let's throw in the Board of Supervisors too, their as bad as the rest.

Arizona Politicians, Sleaziest and Most Corrupt Politicians Money Can Buy.

Coz
Coz

BTW, Lisa Allen too.

Coz
Coz

Arpaio, Hendershott, Jones, McIntyre, Thomas, Lebowitz, Lottstein, only one answer...

But them all in a bus and push the fuckers off a 1000 foot cliff. I'd be more than happy to help do the pushing.

Joemustgo
Joemustgo

cops suck, youare right, found that trusting is hard, but there are a lot of good officers that are not there for just a paycheck, i know personaly many of the phoenix police officers that are very respectful in their jobs, but there are those who i have had officers tell me, "HEY I AM JUST HERE FOR MY PAYCHECK", for which that is not the attitude any officer should have, IT IS ABOUT INTEGRITY, UPHOLDING SAFTEY AND THE CIVIL CONSTITUTIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS OF ALL CITIZENS, (AND EVEN THOSE ABOUT TO BE CITIZENS, those who are not citizens, by united nations laws they have human rights that are inalienable, so that must be recognized too.._) i have been through so much, and even now, dealing with some kind of interference with my paychecks and my lawsuits funds, for which are stuck in wire transfers between banks due to these peoples acitons....

hang in there.. JUSTICE ON THE WAY..........

 
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