As it happened, Stoops soon recanted her testimony: The deal between Stapley and Wolfswinkel hadn't occurred when she thought it had, which destroyed the already weak "bribery" theory. A judge later ruled that the search warrant didn't demonstrate the required probable cause.

The Wolfswinkel family filed suit against the county for unlawful search and seizure and pressed the Sheriff's Office to return what was taken.

Attorney Grant Woods, who's representing the family in the suit, told New Times last year that when the MCSO returned the boxes of records, he and the Wolfswinkels saw that very little of the material was touched.

Loretta Barkell, Arpaio's retired CFO
Loretta Barkell, Arpaio's retired CFO
Former Deputy Chief Larry Black
Dennis Gilman
Former Deputy Chief Larry Black

It was the crowning reason to believe that Knight's suspicions about Arpaio's real motives were on point.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio wants to play victim.

A few weeks ago, the public heard "America's toughest sheriff" claim he was "fooled" by David Hendershott.

Arpaio needs voters — and federal investigators looking into a wide range of alleged criminal activity within his office — to believe he had no idea that Hendershott was an unscrupulous second-in-command.

If anyone doctored search warrants, bullied underlings into violating ethical principles, or worked closely with a reckless prosecutor's office — all in pursuit of criminal investigations targeting Arpaio's political enemies — it was Hendershott, according to the five-term sheriff.

Abuse-of-power allegations against Hendershott are among the most damning in a tell-all memo by Deputy Chief Frank Munnell, which was made public six months ago. It was the revelations in the memo that made it necessary for Arpaio to call for an outside investigation of his office's internal machinations. Naturally, he chose a political ally to handle the probe: Sheriff Paul Babeu, another ambitious Republican who sought and received Arpaio's endorsement in 2008.

The Munnell memo is self-serving in that it was written to Arpaio and feigns ignorance of the sheriff's knowledge of the dirty deeds detailed. For instance, Munnell tells Arpaio that nine MACE supervisors were "removed" because of "intense pressure, continual interference, and [the] absolute political nature of the investigations initiated by Hendershott."

Despite Munnell's respectful treatment of Arpaio, it's now clearer than ever that Hendershott simply was doing the boss' bidding.

When it came to taking vengeance on his political enemies and keeping his name intensely before the public while doing it, the sheriff took a deep and personal interest.

Arpaio is shown in investigation records to be nothing less than a micro-manager of important aspects of tainted investigations — and the driving force behind some of his office's most appalling tactics.

He conferred closely on MACE matters with both Hendershott and the other lead character in MACE vendettas, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas — who's scheduled for a hearing before the Arizona State Bar by October over the MACE-involved scandal. It could result in his disbarment.

Documents show that when underlings told Arpaio there were legal and ethical problems with what MACE was doing, the sheriff brushed aside their concerns and sometimes sent Hendershott to keep dissenters in line.

Besides reviewing a key MACE search warrant, the sheriff also decided there was probable cause for the September 21, 2009, arrest of County Supervisor Stapley, and regularly attended MACE meetings.

Nearly his entire MACE staff fretted over the ethical and legal implications of what they were doing, the Babeu report shows, yet Arpaio ignored the advice of lawyers who told him his office's actions were over the top.

Arpaio has been accused many times over the years of targeting political enemies ("Enemies' List," November 29, 2007), but the recently released documents shed new light on the depth of his witch-hunts.

In addition to abusing the criminal-justice system with tainted "corruption" investigations of his enemies, the Sheriff's Office misspent $84 million from a voter-approved jail-tax fund, a county audit completed last year shows. Another $11.5 million was raided from the profits of jail vending machines.

Arpaio agrees that his office misspent the $99.5 million over the past eight years, but he blames the situation on a "computer glitch."

The office's recently retired chief financial officer, Loretta Barkell, says she told Arpaio repeatedly over the years that he couldn't legally use the jail-tax fund money for law enforcement purposes.

County leaders say the misuse of the money, which now must be paid back to the fund, is criminal.

Another area for possible criminal charges against Arpaio and current or former employees stems from alleged campaign crimes during the 2008 election season.

Last month, New Times detailed the findings of a state Attorney General's Office investigation into the Sheriff's Command Association campaign-finance scandal involving Hendershott, former Deputy Chief Larry Black, and Captain Joel Fox ("Love Connection," April 14). The title of the article refers to the apparent love affair between Black and Fox, who were at the heart of the SCA's high jinks, expressed in e-mails between the two.

The state AG's report on the SCA explains how Sheriff's Office commanders collected funds from each other and from several wealthy admirers of Arpaio's, placed the money in a secret fund, and then used it to make an illegal campaign contribution to the state Republican Party. The donation was made with the understanding that it would be used for a TV ad targeting Arpaio's opponent in the 2008 election, Dan Saban.

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