Sheriff Joe buffaloes readers with bogus yarns in his book Joe's Law

It was all love from the mostly alter kocker crowd of Sheriff Joe supporters at the Barnes & Noble near Pima and Shea in Scottsdale, with Arpaio addressing the seated senior citizens before signing copies of his book Joe's Law: America's Toughest Sheriff Takes on Illegal Immigration, Drugs and Everything Else That Threatens America.

The sheriff was in his element, surrounded by an adoring, lily-white audience of geezers, with TV cameras capturing his usual shuck and jive.

"How much more time we got?" wondered Arpaio toward the end of his remarks. "I could talk forever. They wanna buy the book. If I say everything, they won't need the book."

The county's top constable fielded a few softball questions from his admirers. Why doesn't he run for governor of Arizona? Does the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office confiscate drop houses?

Then a younger voice chimed in, regarding a topic you won't read about in Arpaio's book.

"Would you care to comment about Scott Norberg, who was Tasered I think 15 times, and a towel stuffed into his mouth, strapped down to a chair in your jail?" asked the tall, lanky guy. "He was murdered [there]."

Almost instantly, Arpaio morphed into an enraged beast. He recounted how Norberg had come into his jail "high on drugs," and how he had been incarcerated "many, many times" before.

"We had to subdue him," growled Joe. "And he unfortunately passed away because of a drug overdose."

Not true.

The county medical examiner ruled Norberg was asphyxiated when his chin was crushed into his chest by MCSO deputies while in Sheriff's Office custody. Writing in 1999 about an MCSO video of the killing that was instrumental in securing a then-record $8.25 million settlement for the Norberg family, New Times writer David Holthouse likened it to a snuff flick.

When the activist who raised the issue of Norberg tried to follow up, the oldsters in the crowd turned as mean as the object of their affection. They shouted, "Sit down!" and "Get out of here!" A plainclothes deputy soon escorted the young man out for the offense of asking a tough question of "America's Toughest Sheriff."

It was not the first such interruption during Arpaio's local book tour. Protesters decrying the cruelty of Joe's gulags and his continued persecution of the undocumented have dogged his every appearance. Outside bookstores, activists bearing placards calling him "Ar-payaso" (payaso means clown, in Spanish) or equating him with a Ku Klux Klan member have borne the brunt of punishing summer heat to get their points across.

At previous book-signings, despite being monitored by uniformed and undercover MCSO deputies, anti-Joe forces have inserted into his new tome fliers that detail their complaints against Maricopa County's septuagenarian sheriff. These include Arpaio's costing the county more than $43 million in lawsuit payouts over conditions in county jails and wrongful deaths, like those of Norberg, Charles Agster, and Deborah Braillard (see "Dead End," John Dickerson, December 20, 2007). The 40,000 unserved felony warrants the MCSO has failed to serve are mentioned, along with the sheriff's wasteful RICO spending, his sweeps targeting the Valley's immigrant community, and the racial profiling that occurs during these roundups.

The ghost of Norberg is particularly persistent and unyielding.

At a recent book-signing in Goodyear, a camcorder-wielding activist stood in line with other autograph-seekers and asked that Joe make his inscription out to Scott Norberg. Joe got as far as the first name before looking up with a flash of uneasiness and fear. Joe ordered bodyguards, "Will you get this guy out of here?!" and put his palm up in front of the camera.

A short video soon hit YouTube, featuring a photo of Norberg and an ominous soundtrack of Tibetan chants from the Dalai Lama. The spooky vid is the creation of anti-Arpaio agitator Dennis Gilman (though he's not the one who shot the raw footage).

Therefore, despite all the misstatements and Hoover Dam-size omissions in Arpaio's new book, the truth rises to the surface, strangling each whopper with brutal reality.

An intensely boring read for all but those who are slavishly attached to the man, Joe's Law repeats many of the myths Arpaio has manufactured about himself over the years. With the assistance of friend and writer Len Sherman, the book regurgitates such cock-and-bull stories as Arpaio's supposed run-in with Elvis, Joe's implausible role in ending the infamous French Connection, and bogus threats on Joe's life — beginning with the laughable assertion that Phoenix immigrant-rights advocate Elias Bermudez, the Minutemen, and the Mexican Mafia have a price on his head.

Indeed, though some of the book deals with immigration, a lot of it is lifted word for word from Joe's previous collaboration with Sherman, America's Toughest Sheriff: How We Can Win the War Against Crime, published in 1996. The back of the new book features John McCain's endorsement from the old book, in spite of a chapter near the end of Joe's Law that bashes McCain. (Arpaio complains that McCain has not properly curried his favor and possible endorsement for president.)

The new book is bursting with self-plagiarizing passages. Speaking of a drug deal gone awry, Arpaio writes on page 162 of the 1996 tome: "Okay. Drug deals aren't planned in a lawyer's office. (Well most drug deals aren't planned in a lawyer's office.) Schedules aren't fixed. Problems arise; People adapt."

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15 comments
bob
bob

#8/9 There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that Nickel Bag Joe is gay. He would never blow to make a blow bust.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

Reply to #10 -- the average age may be 33 but if they have been snared by Arpaio and took a plea, which is what the oldsters want, then they cannot vote. We have a whole generation who cannot vote -- 40,000 felonies in one year going through the Maricopa County Superior Court system takes out thousands of voters. Think about it? Ethnic cleansing or age discrimination -- if they didn't take a plea they are going from high school to jails and prisons where they all know one another -- a very sad commentary for Maricopa County and the State of Arizona. They are eating their young!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

What I fend most interesting is that there are those out there that believe this mans obnoxious lies and his clearly insane antisocial behavior gives us all cause to worry about the furture, while he may be intellegent the sherriff is clearly missing something in his personality.

Tom
Tom

Hey I saw a youtube video saying Joe has to go and the ending had Hitler saying vote 4 joe. Maybe Joe should use this in his ads Skinheads, Nazi's, and the KKK endorse Joe for Sheriff.

Joe's Crab Shack
Joe's Crab Shack

Yeah thanks for the article for us newbies in town. I had no idea Arizona was so corrupt! I'm from Louisiana (yes, moving back in late 08'), and we're blunt about our corruption. But murder and human rights violations draws the line for me. I thought the average age for a Phoenix resident was 33? If so, why is the old geezer still in office?

Bessica
Bessica

It is said that everyone is bi to some extent. Not sure about this. But I also heard about the same from some professional sites. Maybe it depends on how to define it.

If you can appreciate the beauty in both men and women, and find yourself attracted to the person regardless of their gender, then you are bi. Many hot and sexy bi singles & couples on ** BiLoves dotcom ** are looking to explore their bisexuality, coming out or enjoying their lives as bi here.

AZ Watchdog
AZ Watchdog

Speaking of books - his co-hort, "hang-em in the town square", County Attorney Andrew Thomas also likes to write books, so that makes him qualified to be County Attorney with an unlimited marketing budget? His books can be purchased for less than one dollar on Amazon.

Stephen and Sarah, you both are sooo good! You're both on your way to a Pulitzer Prize! Keep up the great work informing the public, who don't have the same marketing budget and the "candidates".

The following from Sarah Fenske's article about Andrew Thomas burnishing his Wikipedia site:

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com...

Comments: Outstanding article and research! I like how you tied it all together. All the loose ends going in different directions aren't fooling those who remain vigilant of the devious activities going on around us by those who only are interested in themselves at taxpayers expense and those who are losing their lives with this abuse of power. It's hard to outdo #2 Theoline's comments, which ring out clearly. Sarah, keep on digging, you have struck a gold mine that few others would have the courage to write about. Keep up the great work.Comment by Matilda from scottsdale on Feb 28th, 2008, 19:15 pm

Theoline, to answer your question, the "crime prevention" brochure is being handed out in the seminar packet County Attorney Andrew Thomas is holding in the area churches. Look in the small classified ads in your neighborhood newspaper and pg. 2 of the AZ Republic. Someone needs to find out the cost of the expensive pocket folder all the "hand-outs" are put in. It is navy blue, heavy stock, with metallic gold embossed logo, with County Attorney Andrew Thomas' name in very large letters. This is a pocket folder you would receive at a University graduation from medical or law school, certainly not in a taxpayers budget. Andrew Thomas name was also printed in color on the notepads. A continental breakfast and lunch were served. All this is a waste of taxpayer dollars, in a county and state that is deeply in debt. This "seminar" by the MCAO Conference given by County Attorney Andrew Thomas, appeared to be nothing more than deceptive election campaign tactics using the churches, as a way to collect names and addresses. If the motive were an honest one, then the ads would say "open to the public" and not ask for names and addresses. The public needs to be made aware of this deception. Your article goes a long way to confirm what we seem to be seeing all around us. The classified ad and the notice asked people to call in and register. If gathering names and addresses was not a motive, the ad simply would say, "open to the public". The public needs a brochure on how to protect itself from overzealous law enforcement and prosecution. 40,000 felonies on one year in Maricopa County should send a red flag to the public that they need something to protect themselves from the out of control broken criminal justice system. Where's that pamphlet? Where are our civil rights listed?Comment by Stewart M. from cave Creek on Feb 28th, 2008, 19:42 pmLooking for Andrew Thomas books, Theoline? You might try Amazon.com. The sell for a dollar and change in their "used" books. They are listed in "collectibles" where you thought you might have to pay $70,000.Comment by Stewart M. from cave Creek on Feb 28th, 2008, 19:50 pm

Correction on above: they are NOT listed in "collectibles" where books might be $70,000. So when Thomas says he wrote four books does that make him a specialist in criminal justice? -- I think NOT. Especially if the book has so little value that it sells for slightly more than one dollar.Comment by stewart M. from cave Creek on Feb 28th, 2008, 19:56 pm

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

Great concept. Mr. Lemons comes through again with an article that is not only well-researched but one of the funniest things to appear in Phoenix New Times this year.

If only Uncle Joe's book (as published) had actually subtitled itself "America's Meanest Sheriff Buffaloes Readers with Bogus Yarns, Unprovable Claims & Hoover Dam-size Omissions of Fact"! But truth in advertising has never stopped Arpaio from offering up a self-serving story.

Who else but Stephen Lemons has gone to the trouble to contact the original, real-life French Connection detective in order to debunk Uncle Joe's outrageous braggadocio?

Bearup's quotes are also priceless, as is ghost-writer (er, co-author) Len Sherman's attempt at spin-control.

I had been wondering exactly who would stoop to helping Uncle Joe assemble his maundering collection of corn-pone wisdom and erroneous personal recollections -- perhaps a superannuated night-watchman in need of supplemental income? -- but no, it seems that Sherman has written other soft-ball biographies. Who can forget "Popcorn King: How Orville Redenbacher and his Popcorn Charmed America" ?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/custo...

The book was issued in paperback in October, 1996 under Sherman's sole byline. I suspect that it was originally written as another "autobiographical" volume, but after Redenbacher's death in September of 1995, Sherman decided not to let it go to waste and had it issued under his name alone.

Coz
Coz

Arpaio, America's Toughest Liar...

Geo Nerd
Geo Nerd

I saw the display of Joe's latest at Borders on Mill in Tempe. I went and found a copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf and casually laid it in the center of the display. They went perfect together. I went back a couple of hours later and someone else had come along and arranged the display so there was no mistaking these two books belong together.

Coz
Coz

Yea, Bozo Joe is a real legend, in his own mind...

To the rest of us with any brains, he's just a bumbling old corrupt fool that has cost Maricopa County Tax Payers 44 million dollars with his continual bullshit.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

Well done and very informative. Stephen, you do a great job of showing the "other side" in a town dominated by a one-way stream of media-hype by elected officials who should be quietly and professionally doing their jobs, and should not be using taxpayers money to advance their personal agendas and political ambitions. The "branding" of a Sheriff and a County Attorney should not be allowed. We need some "zero-tolerance" policies on that, but with Pearce in the legislature to protect Arpaio and Thomas that much needed reform might never happen. Thanks for connecting the dots!

Newcomer
Newcomer

For those that are new to Arizona, your article gave us all some much needed background, especially in this important election year which is one of much needed change and reform. The Pearce / Arpaio connection should make voters think twice! Seems like a conflict of interest.

 
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