Let's say the sheriff gets the records — do you think there's something in there that might prove a little embarrassing, even if it has nothing to do with racial profiling? Maybe the mayor secretly has a foul mouth. Maybe he had a meeting with a developer hated by local residents, and soon thereafter, the developer got a sweet deal.

Who knows? There's always something, and Arpaio has proved himself willing to do anything to get even with an enemy.

Unfortunately for the sheriff, Gordon doesn't have a city-issued cell phone. And the city of Phoenix has a longstanding policy of deleting e-mail every 30 days.

Eduardo Barraza

Still, I can just imagine the sheriff salivating at the possibilities.


Sheriff Arpaio has a history of harassing "dime-droppers" within the Sheriff's Office and penalizing critics outside of it. The guy behind a prominent anti-Arpaio Web site found his trash rifled through and a wiretap on his phone. An actor who dared to pose as an Arpaio-like character for a pro-gambling initiative was arrested for — get this — "impersonating a police officer." Even the ACLU's legal director was booked into the county jail after attempting to monitor sheriff's deputies last year. (See "Enemies List," November 29, 2007.)

The sheriff's Internal Affairs Division, the department demanding Gordon's e-mail, is a frequent tool for Arpaio's revenge.

Arpaio himself used to refer to the bureau as "Internal Security," according to the deposition of one former deputy. I don't think it was an innocent slip. Rather than serving as an independent arm to "police the police," as in many departments, Internal Affairs at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office appears to take direction from the top.

When, for example, the bureau was investigating the very real question of whether Arpaio had ordered his enemies to be tailed, the sheriff's top brass limited the scope so that Arpaio couldn't be questioned on that subject. (That detail comes from court filings by Phoenix attorney Joel Robbins, who's handled numerous suits against the sheriff, including one from Dan Saban, the sheriff's once and future opponent and the victim of a particularly ugly smear.) At other times, Internal Affairs eagerly pursued deputies whose only crime was questioning Arpaio's orders.

Indeed, it's worth noting that the Internal Affairs deputy who sent the request to Phoenix last month, Travis Anglin, is the same guy who worked on the investigation into a possibly purloined sheriff's decal in the 2005 election. That investigation, first reported in "Enemies List," ended with the seizure of four computers belonging to a graphic artist who worked for Democratic candidates — just days before the election.

Does that sound like a legitimate Internal Affairs investigation to you?

The sheriff's attempt to use the public-records law for nefarious purposes is especially ironic because his office is so notorious for failing to follow that very law. Just last week, Maricopa County was forced to cut a check to the West Valley View for $38,000 because the Sheriff's Office refused for years to put the scrappy newspaper on its e-mail list for press releases. Press releases! A judge ruled that was wrong. Duh. Now, we the taxpayers get stuck with the bill for the sheriff's recalcitrance.

Closer to home, the appeals court ruled earlier this year that the sheriff had wrongly denied New Times public records in eight different instances. It's hard to screw up that badly without trying.

Back in March, I got a tip alleging that an inmate had died under curious circumstances at the Lower Buckeye Jail. I knew the month, but not the exact date — which ought to be enough in any normal universe. How many deaths can there be at the jail in a single month?

But when I put in a public-records request asking for information about any deaths at the jail in question for a one-month period, Sheriff's Captain Paul Chagolla read me the riot act.

"You will not play the typical New Times-John Dougherty strategy with the Sheriff's Office, Ms. Fenske," he wrote in an e-mail to me, referring to a former colleague who'd written numerous pieces critical of the sheriff's office. "These 'alleged deaths' so vaguely listed by you smells of a fishing expedition."

When I pressed him for the documents, Captain Chagolla only got nastier. He wrote that I had "already shown the ability to lie," refused to give me specifics about my "alleged lying," and scolded me for being coy. Allegedly.

All in a day's work for a reporter, I guess. If I had ever lied to Chagolla, I might have felt guilty, but my conscience was clean. I don't even know the guy.

The funny part is that when I eventually got the records, there was nothing to them. The death was of natural causes, if a life of using crystal meth could ever be described as natural. I never wrote a story.

Yet I couldn't help thinking of the exchange when I saw the sheriff's request for information about Gordon.

Seeking information about any deaths at a particular jail in a single month is a fishing expedition, but seeking tens of thousands of e-mails over a six-month period is fair game?

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My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
Linda Skoien
Linda Skoien

Keep up all your good work ...We the people do appreciate all that you stand for and do wish we had a person like you in California and oregon.. Both states have so much crime and wasted monies on these people whom need to go back to their own country and not bleed ours dry.. Did I say I am a grandma with these views and know hundreds more who share my same views on this serious matter.

Concerned Taxpayer
Concerned Taxpayer

The comment below still applies, and it's December!

"Arpaio and his Goons are so out of control it's actually becoming dangerous for all Maricopa County Citizens.

When does this tyrant meet his end ?

When does Arpaio finally pay for all the death, destruction and lives he's destroying in his wake ?

Comment by Coz from Peoria on May 15th, 2008, 01:29 am

Jim
Jim

test

Philaberto
Philaberto

Thinking man writes "Only eight comments? AZ Central usually has hundreds"

That's because there is only a handful of you pathetic liberal whining babies, and thank God for that. Another positive side to abortion.

Thinking Man
Thinking Man

Only eight comments? AZ Central usually has hundreds. Arpaio is a moron and publicity seeking crook. I just moved mack to Phoenix after being away for several years. I am amazed that the citizens of the county have put up with such shameless graft and corruption. It's amazing what fear can do.

I only agree with the New Times about 25% of the time, but profiling or not, this buffoon has got to go.

rainbow bomb
rainbow bomb

like all suspects, he's got plenty to hide. so he plays a victim when inactuality he's getting nervous of all this overt and covert efforts which are criminal. Plus his sympathy for white supremacy and irrational dehumanization of mexican humans.

really, it's gotten too far and he's got to confront what he's initiated.

there are pictures and videos. plus piles and piles of records and he's sifting attention off himself toward mr mayor and gov. it's obvious. not to mention the human rights violations by his major link to psychiatric sources drugging prisoners and ruining their sanity. on and on. he definitely needs to be stopped...$$$$$$$$$ don't go with you when your spirit leaves your flesh.

Hank Hill
Hank Hill

Here is an email that Sheriff Joke and his deputies can read - kiss my ass.

Who does this jack ass think he is? Is Joke completely senile or is Chicken Little Chagolla running the show at MCSO?

My theory is Joke has totally checked out mentally and his puppeteers are using him as a front for fraud.

Here it is again - Kiss my ass!

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

Sarah, Thank you for the courage to write about the out-of-control sheriff and his enablers. Your article a outstanding and a great public service. We are all grateful -- especially those who have been silenced in fear. Of course that's the culture they created. We will flip the switch this election and get rid of the tyrants. We're tired of living in a Third World country run by a Troika.

Vote for Dan Saban for Sheriff, Gerald Richard for County Attorney!

Shaking my head in wonder
Shaking my head in wonder

There it is folks, YOUR tax dollars at work... "doing what?", you say...

Just ONE more vendetta...

Coz
Coz

Acutally, two bit punk ass Whore I think fits better...

>>Truth is. he is nothing more than a two bit punk ass bitch.

Michael
Michael

I could almost see Arpaios actions if he was an actual law enforcement officer. Truth is. he is nothing more than a two bit punk ass bitch.

THE REPEATER
THE REPEATER

Arpaio and his Goons are so out of control it's actually becoming dangerous for all Maricopa County Citizens.

When does this tyrant meet his end ?

When does Arpaio finally pay for all the death, destruction and lives he's destroying in his wake ?

Coz
Coz

Arpaio and his Goons are so out of control it's actually becoming dangerous for all Maricopa County Citizens.

When does this tyrant meet his end ?

When does Arpaio finally pay for all the death, destruction and lives he's destroying in his wake ?

 
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