By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
A close-up photo of a dead man's battered face flashes on the large screen, his closely shaved head on its side — streaked, dried blood and a blackened, bloated tongue protruding between pale lips.
The image lingers for a moment, then comes another.
A woman's hand. Flesh hangs from her nearly severed middle finger. Her face is bruised; her eyes appear swollen shut. Her abductors have etched a message on her belly: "Call me."
And still more gruesome photographs of faceless victims — heads wrapped tightly with tape, one body stuffed in the trunk of a car, two more discarded in the desert.
The slideshow documented crimes committed right here in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States of America. Sometimes in broad daylight. It's shocking, terrifying stuff, and on a spring day in 2008, before a seminar for law enforcement at a local FBI field office, Phoenix Police Sergeant Phil Roberts narrated the carnage.
Roberts, an average-size man with a shock of dirty blond hair clipped closely above his ears and the clean-cut face of a cop, described the torture endured by the victims on display — victims of the border-related kidnapping crisis that has seized Phoenix for the better part of five years.
The self-proclaimed kidnapping expert captivated his audience as he described the "anatomy of a kidnapping," which involves illegal immigrants being held hostage in exchange for ransom by the coyotes who smuggle them into the United States.
Home invasions coupled with kidnappings typically involve drug smugglers and drug dealers busting into each other's homes and ripping off loads of drugs or taking hostages for ransom demands as high as $1 million. Those cases are far more brutal, he explains.
Roberts' fellow cops certainly left the room that April day with vivid images seared into their memories from that slideshow, but it was something Roberts said that proved the most difficult to forget.
The supervisor for the Phoenix Police Department's Robbery Unit announced that his city was the nation's "kidnapping capital" — a phrase that catapulted both Phoenix and Roberts into the national media spotlight.
Roberts revealed that day that the number of kidnapping cases — and the level of violence associated with them — was on the rise in Arizona. Phoenix handled 359 kidnapping cases in 2007 alone, he said, and emphasized that every single one of them was tied to illegal immigration.
Though some Phoenix police and city officials have been confused about the origin of the phrase "America's kidnapping capital" — some incorrectly attributing it to the media — its first traceable reference comes from Roberts' presentation that day in 2008.
In his job at the time, Roberts led a squad of police detectives who responded to general robberies, as well as the violent home invasions and brutal kidnappings spurred by drug and human smugglers working across the Arizona-Mexico border. He was in a position to know firsthand of the violence plaguing Phoenix.
And people were listening to him.
A member of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association who attended Roberts' training seminar wrote an article for the local police union newsletter headlined, "Phoenix AZ, Kidnap Capital, USA."
Two months later, Roberts was making national television appearances. He reinforced Phoenix's reputation as the nation's kidnap capital during a June 2008 appearance on Fox News' Hannity's America, where he repeated that 359 kidnappings in 2007 were attributable to drug smuggling and the border.
At least 15 more times between 2008 and 2009, Roberts talked about border-related abductions to national media outlets, including Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, America's Most Wanted, and National Geographic. The high numbers cited from 2007 turned into equally terrifying numbers in 2008, Roberts reported.
In a February 12, 2009, article in the Los Angeles Times, Roberts warned that the vicious kidnappings in Mexico that prompt bank officials to travel with armed guards could take root in the United States, and that Phoenix cops are "trying to prevent that from happening."
A few months later, seemingly out of the blue, Roberts' story changed completely.
Instead of making national media appearances to talk about dangerous kidnappings, he went on a memo-writing campaign to explain the dangers within his own police department.
In late 2009, Roberts announced that the Phoenix PD task force handling kidnap and home invasion cases was nothing more than a "golden ticket" for detectives to build their résumés. He started downplaying the figures he'd been touting. In his voluminous memos, Roberts claimed that Phoenix kidnapping statistics were bogus and intentionally inflated by police officials to defraud the federal government of grant money.
He claimed that Phoenix had only 20 to 30 border-related kidnap cases a year, instead of the 300-plus logged in 2008.
The Phoenix Police Department stood by its numbers, even when New Times reviewed records and found them to be grossly inflated. The agency's defiant stance and failure to examine the statistics more closely is what effectively ended the career of Public Safety Manager Jack Harris, who retired after the city manager reassigned him to oversee municipal building security out of an office at Sky Harbor International Airport.
Roberts, meanwhile, claimed he'd exposed the police department's "corruption." He called himself a hero and a whistle-blower.
The truth? This cop was anything but.
As it turns out, Phil Roberts made his allegations about corrupt police officials and inflated statistics after he was passed over for a job to head a team of investigators chasing those kidnappers. A job he really wanted.
He understood that statistics generated by kidnapping cases could be misleading, because their accuracy hinges on detectives properly labeling police reports or investigations. He knew that his own unit wasn't living up to that responsibility, but that did not stop him from accusing Phoenix officials of intentionally blowing the kidnapping crisis out of proportion — even though that wasn't the case.
Roberts' claims that top Phoenix police officials exaggerated kidnapping statistics to defraud the feds out of grant money were debunked by a panel of experts who conducted an in-depth review of the statistics at the behest of the Phoenix city manager. The panel found that the statistics Phoenix released in 2008 were, indeed, flawed — but they were severely under-reported, not inflated.
And this was not due to corruption. Instead — the best anyone could tell — it was lousy recordkeeping.
There are several reasons why Roberts embarked on a campaign to "expose" the Phoenix Police Department.
He alluded to some in his writings, including the mounting stress of a crumbling professional and personal life that was taking its toll on him. Before Roberts fired off a series of very public allegations against top Phoenix police officials, he was a dedicated investigator with an impressive track record in law enforcement. After, he seemed more like a disgruntled employee dealing with the end of a 22-year marriage and the downward spiral of a career that also spanned more than two decades.
When his allegations didn't go anywhere, he concluded that those at the highest levels of the police department were part of the conspiracy against him.
Roberts told New Times that he can't talk about his case because he is currently under investigation by the Phoenix Police Department. Phoenix police officials declined requests for interviews.
But police internal investigative reports, court documents, and Roberts' own memos, e-mails, and personnel files — all acquired through public information requests — as well as background interviews, tell the story.
"There's the black and white written word you can look at weeks, months, years later, but what you don't get is what is happening behind the scenes and the face-to-face conversations," said Dave Kothe, vice president of the Phoenix police officers' union.
When he joined the Phoenix Police Department more than 25 years ago, Phil Roberts was eager to please. Like any rookie cop, he had some polishing to do when it came to writing reports and keeping vigilant on the job. His superiors thought Roberts had potential. Notes in his personnel file indicate he exceeded expectations when it came to his attitude, investigative techniques, and handling stress on the job — skills he perhaps had picked up during his military service.
Born in 1962, Roberts grew up in Phoenix and graduated from Cortez High School on the west side of town. He took a few community college courses, served four years in the U.S. Navy, and then joined the Phoenix Police Department in 1985. He married the following year, according to his divorce file in Maricopa County Superior Court, and fathered three children.
Roberts was dedicated to the job, an ardent over-achiever. He indicated on his city employment records that he dabbled in mountain climbing, scuba diving, and photography.
As he moved up the ranks, it seems he thought some of his colleagues were envious of his promotion to sergeant.
"At times, individuals . . . I have worked with or around mistake my enthusiasm or energy for this job as tension," he wrote in a note to his supervisor in 2007. "In reality, I look upon it as a . . . stinging of one's ego, brought upon my rank of sergeant, making command decisions in the heat of battle."
When he arrived in the Robbery Unit in 2006, police officials had already established the connection between human and drug smuggling and the storm of kidnapping and home invasion cases assailing the city. But there wasn't a dedicated team of investigators handling those cases; instead, they were being juggled by detectives also dealing with general robbery crimes.
Phil Roberts ran the kidnapping and home invasion investigations with little interference from his supervisor. He relished the media attention and the hefty overtime pay associated with working complicated cases that involved trying to locate and rescue kidnapping victims from the hands of drug dealers and human smugglers.
Police officers who used to work with Roberts said he would brag about being the highest-paid sergeant in the Phoenix Police Department. City records show that Roberts pocketed more than $150,000 worth of overtime and on-call pay in the four years he worked on kidnap and extortion cases.
In 2008, Phoenix Police Lieutenant Laurel Burgett was assigned to the Violent Crimes Bureau, which was home to Roberts' Robbery Unit. She created the Home Invasion and Kidnapping Enforcement (HIKE) unit, a special task force that would exclusively take over those cases from the Robbery Unit. She assigned another sergeant to lead that team, passing over Roberts, who she noted in performance reviews did not effectively manage the detectives assigned to him or complete administrative duties.
Roberts grumbled about not being selected for the job. His disappointment was obvious. At times, he told his lieutenant that he was being treated like a child and that he should be the HIKE sergeant. Other times, a more contrite Roberts told her that he understood her decision and would work on his management skills.
He remained the Robbery Unit sergeant but also served as a backup HIKE sergeant. He could still tap his stream of overtime pay and participate in the adrenaline-pumping, high-profile kidnapping rescues.
A year went by. Lieutenant Burgett found that many of the cases HIKE encountered were linked to drug-trafficking operations. She decided the unit would be better off leaving the Violent Crimes Bureau and moving into the Drug Enforcement Bureau.
Roberts knew he would be left behind. He would no longer get to work the kidnapping cases or cash in on the overtime.
The move was planned for September 2009, and just one month before his ties to the task force were severed, Roberts' message about kidnapping cases in Phoenix took a drastic turn.
The same man who stood before law enforcement officers in April 2008 and talked about how kidnapping cases were escalating in frequency and violence had begun saying that police officials lied about the magnitude of the problem and that the statistics were "bogus."
He conveniently omitted that he had repeatedly disseminated those kidnap counts, he had sounded the alarm about the increasing violence, and he had billed Phoenix as the kidnap capital to media outlets across the country.
Roberts' voluminous memos, reviewed by New Times, do not paint a picture of a whistle-blower or a hero. Rather, they show a man desperate to discredit those who dimmed his moment in the spotlight and slashed his access to overtime pay when they snipped his ties to the high-profile cases.
Roberts' allegations went as far as claiming Phoenix police officials were in on the conspiracy to defraud the federal government of more than $2 million in grants.
It wasn't the only accusation he'd lodged against his own police agency, but it was the one that caught the attention of the public — and the U.S. Department of Justice. The federal agency visited Phoenix in January to get a closer look at those figures. Their inquiry is ongoing.
Stress eventually got the better of Phil Roberts.
Before he went on stress leave — and even while he was on leave — the seasoned sergeant launched dozens of allegations against Phoenix police officials.
One of the most shocking was that high-ranking Phoenix police officials intentionally inflated kidnapping statistics to swindle the federal government out of grant money aimed at combating crimes with ties to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Though statistics can be misleading, for state and local investigators charged with combating the violence tied to border-related kidnappings and home invasions, the magnitude of Phoenix's kidnapping problem is unmistakable.
The pictures that Phil Roberts showed to his colleagues in April 2008 were very real.
"We see some of the most violent people in the country," Phoenix Police Sergeant Harry Reiter, a member of a special state task force that roots out makeshift neighborhood prisons and rescues kidnap victims, told New Times last year ("Seized: Inside America's Kidnapping Capital," August 12, 2010).
The home invasions and kidnappings are not taking place in remote corners of the Valley. They are taking place in neighborhoods, in average single-family homes that are doubling as suburban prisons for hostages who are beaten and tortured until a ransom is paid for their freedom.
Cops confiscated a video from one of the houses where violent kidnappers stashed their victims and allowed New Times to view a typical beating last year:
A man with wavy, black hair and a pale face can be seen lying on his side, a semiautomatic weapon just inches from his head. A coyote's hand is pushing down the man's head to keep him from moving. The victim's eyes are squeezed tightly shut. For a moment, he opens them — wide — and the horror is unmistakable. The gun still in his face, he squeezes his eyes shut. His lips are moving rapidly (there is no sound on the video). He opens and closes his eyes a second time. The hand that is holding down the victim's head suddenly goes up in the air, and — crack! — a fist slams into the side of the man's head, ripping the skin near his ear. Blood oozes down his temple.
The video ends.
State and local investigators reported that kidnappers kick and punch hostages, beat them with baseball bats, submerge them in bathtubs and electrically shock them, burn their flesh with blowtorches, smash their fingers with bricks, slice their bodies with butcher knives, shoot them in their arms and legs, and cut open their backs with wire-cutters.
As New Times reported a year ago, the kidnapping business is thriving in Phoenix because more border traffic has been siphoned through Arizona over the past 15 years. As migration routes shifted to Arizona, many immigrants turned to coyotes to help them get across the Sonoran Desert.
And some of those coyotes have been anything but friendly.
Smuggling immigrants for nearly $2,000 each became a profitable venture, almost as lucrative as running drugs or weapons across the U.S.-Mexico border. Drug cartels joined forces with human smugglers in Mexico or branched out to include humans as part of their own cargos. With the promise of making even more money, coyotes paid to guide their victims to a better life turned into kidnappers.
Many cases go unreported, and victims and their families are reluctant to cooperate with police for fear of being deported.
Roberts took advantage of the obscurity of kidnapping cases when he leveled his damning allegations.
As Phil Roberts rose up through the ranks at the Phoenix Police Department, his supervisors remarked upon how he stayed cool and collected in even the toughest undercover jobs.
Roberts' subsequent supervisors made similar observations but said there still was room for improvement, even as he was promoted to sergeant.
"Your biggest challenge concerns your administrative duties," a supervisor wrote in Roberts' 2001 performance review, but most of the comments were glowing, and his fieldwork was described as "peerless."
The positive reviews would continue, as would the commendations filed in his personnel jacket.
In July 2006, Roberts was transferred to the Violent Crimes Bureau as a robbery sergeant. Though it appeared that Roberts' professional life was shining brightly, a storm was brewing in the Roberts household. Roberts' personal and professional woes left him standing in a world he couldn't control.
Roberts was going through a divorce after 22 years of marriage, and he was losing a grip on his lead spot among kidnapping investigators.
His then-wife, Elisabeth Roberts, also a Phoenix police sergeant, left him for Randy Force, a fellow Phoenix police officer. There was tension in the halls, and, at one point, Roberts confronted Force in his office. Roberts also told others that should he die on the job, Force would not be allowed at his funeral.
Roberts' behavior did not go unnoticed.
"You have gone through some extraordinarily personal issues," Lieutenant Anthony Vasquez wrote in Roberts' 2007 performance review. "I encourage you to keep positive in your outlook and seek support from your friends and co-workers."
On February 12, 2007, seven months after he joined the Robbery Unit, he moved out of his house in Anthem and into an East Phoenix condo.
He filed for divorce in June 2007.
"I have come to realize very quickly how important it is to have a supportive lieutenant to work for, not only for job-related issues but personal matters as well," he wrote to Vasquez.
When police officials assigned Lieutenant Burgett to oversee the Robbery Unit in June 2008, she also listened to Roberts' tales of personal woe — to a point.
A combination of a busy work schedule (including supervising several squads) and an all-business demeanor left fewer opportunities for Roberts to hang around her office. And Burgett and Force were good friends, having worked together in the Phoenix Police Department's Public Affairs Bureau.
Clearly, Roberts' stress was not just driven by the job.
One day in June 2009, Roberts left work early to attend his son's high school graduation, where his ex-wife would be. Before he left, he told Burgett that he had not seen her in a while and wondered how he would handle an encounter with her.
The next day, he called Burgett upset and angry and told her he needed to take the morning off because he saw Force kiss his ex-wife's cheek after the ceremony.
Burgett told him to take whatever time he needed.
While she tried to accommodate his personal needs, she also demanded that he perform as a manager.
"We have worked to divide the responsibilities of the overburdened detectives . . ." Burgett wrote in Roberts' 2008 performance review. "Another advantage to this division in responsibilities: It allows for you to focus and better manage the detectives assigned to you."
She urged him to control his "expressive," or dramatic, nature.
"I know this is a demonstration of your enthusiasm for a job well done," she wrote. "But I would caution you to be factual and concise when disseminating information outside of our bureau."
Roberts, accustomed to far more glowing reviews, was furious. In his memos, he repeatedly called them the "worst notes" he'd ever received on his performance during his 24 years as a police officer.
He adopted the acronym "FTB" (Fuck the Bitch), and wrote it on his office white board, along with other war-related scribblings.
"Find a New Wife???" he wrote on the board, and beneath it: "Who needs one FTB!"
The board was also peppered with quotes, perhaps illustrative of his own struggles:
"If it bleeds, we can kill it." — Predator
"In Robbery, no one can hear you scream." — paraphrased from Alien
"To win a war . . . you must become war." — Rambo: First Blood Part II
On August 2, 2009, a month before HIKE's anticipated move to the Drug Enforcement Bureau, Roberts wrote his first memo blasting Burgett.
He accused her of destroying public records, fostering a hostile work environment rife with sexual and racial discrimination, violating the civil rights of a kidnapping suspect, botching a criminal investigation, and retaliating against him for exposing her misdeeds.
Roberts' allegations fell mostly flat after they were investigated by the Professional Standards Bureau (the internal affairs arm of the Phoenix Police Department), the city's Equal Employment Department, and the City Manager's Integrity Committee, which reviews various complaints.
A few weeks later, Roberts forged a symbiotic relationship with the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, the police union for rank-and-file cops. The union welcomed Roberts on September 1, 2009.
While PLEA's agenda was to oust Harris, a chief known for his opposition to union officials' political push for local cops to engage in anti-immigration enforcement, Roberts seemed obsessed with bringing down Burgett.
Together, Roberts and PLEA unloaded an arsenal of allegations against police. At first, kidnapping statistics were not on the top of their list. The claim registered only a few sentences on page four of his first 20-page memo.
"Statistics continually are shifted and moved around to meet agendas and perpetuate the idea that kidnappings and home invasions required a huge police response with millions of dollars in federal grant money," he wrote in his August 2009 memo to Marquita Beene, an investigator in the city's Equal Opportunity Department. "This, in spite of the fact that the number of 'operational' kidnappings have drastically decreased and the organized home invasion crews seemed to be few and far between."
Yet, nine months earlier, Roberts himself nominated the Robbery Unit for the 2008 Police Chief Unit Award, partially for their herculean efforts in dealing with the "influx of border-related crimes."
Roberts again contradicted himself in an April 12, 2010, memo as he explained that his team of robbery detectives fell behind because they deal with 5,000 cases a year, unlike HIKE detectives, who "receive approximately 300 kidnapping and 50 home invasion investigations a year."
Although Roberts' allegations weren't adding up, he was undeterred. If his allegations were proved false, Roberts accused investigators of being part of the conspiracy against him.
On different occasions, Roberts wrote: "I feel I have been the repeated target [of] retaliation from upper-level management . . ." And "I believe that Professional Standards Bureau is now a co-conspirator in EEO retaliation."
Later he wrote, "Several union officials have cautioned me over the past few days that as the allegations are brought forward, officials reading this memorandum may make statements that 'Phil is out of control,' 'He's crazy,' or 'He's doing this because of his divorce.'"
But he continued writing. And contradicting himself.
Roberts claimed repeatedly that police officials retaliated against him for being a "whistle-blower" by forcibly removing him from the Robbery Unit.
However, on September 25, 2009, he sent an e-mail to his detectives telling them he was voluntarily leaving the unit.
In September 2009, Roberts requested a transfer from the Robbery Unit to the Squaw Peak Precinct until he "found a more permanent home." He told police officials that he made the request because it was in his best interest, as well as the unit's. His request was granted on October 5, 2009.
Also, in a February 19, 2010, memo, he admitted that he "did submit three transfer requests in 2009, all to leave Lieutenant Burgett's span of control."
Roberts wanted to return to the Robbery Unit, in part because he suffered a "financial hit." He was not allowed.
City records show that prior to joining the Robbery Unit, in 2005, Roberts made $6,864 worth of overtime and on-call pay. In 2006, his first year as a Robbery Unit sergeant handling kidnap and home invasion cases, it doubled to about $12,100. The following year, it surpassed $50,000.
By 2008, his overtime and on-call pay alone hit a striking $66,952.80.
After Burgett moved HIKE to the Drug Enforcement Bureau, Roberts' overtime income dropped considerably.
In December 2009, he filed a claim against the city seeking $500,000 in damages for their retaliation against him for exposing their alleged misdeeds. He followed it up with a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, which city attorneys will ask the courts to dismiss.
In February 2010, he filed a second claim against Phoenix, naming in it all those who he believed wronged him. In it, he asked for millions of dollars to settle the claim.
By that time, after a year of writing lengthy memos and distributing them to City Hall and other city investigators, Roberts said he was diagnosed with "extreme stress" and went on an eight-month leave. But he kept writing.
When he returned in mid-August 2010, police officials placed him on administrative leave and notified him that he was under investigation.
Phoenix police officials have not revealed to New Times the nature of the investigation of Roberts. When he realized he was on the receiving end of an investigation, Roberts went back on stress leave and didn't return until October 3, 2010.
When federal investigators' initial inquiry found discrepancies in police reports linked to the 356 kidnapping cases in 2008, Roberts stood tall and took credit for blowing the whistle.
While the federal inquiry is ongoing, a five-member panel convened by City Manager David Cavazos revealed in May that detectives were not managing their cases properly, causing reports to be mislabeled and statistics skewed.
When Phoenix police diligently combed through the reports, the 358 kidnapping cases in 2008 almost doubled.
The panel revealed that Phoenix dealt with more than 600 kidnap cases in 2008, and that it found no "credible evidence" that police officials intentionally inflated any numbers.
Roberts knew that detectives' shoddy case management would screw up the stats, and he even described it in an August 9, 2010, memo.
"As senior Robbery Sergeant at the time, I was familiar with all of these explanations and how they evolved," he wrote. "Many of the 300-plus kidnappings that were reported to the Robbery Unit each year had to do with routing errors."
Knowing the root of the problems with statistics did not stop him from claiming that the figures were intentionally exaggerated or from quoting the higher figures himself.
In fact, four days after explaining to city investigators that routing errors were to blame for the erroneous statistics, Roberts reiterated his claims that Phoenix intentionally inflated those figures to get federal funding.
He doesn't mention in his memos that he was one of the very sergeants who should have been ensuring detectives were properly managing those kidnap and home invasion case files in 2007 and most of 2008.
And he pushed his claims as truth, even when he knew his allegations were just his own "plausible explanations."
"I do not attest that any of these . . . reasons are the sole or even a partial reason as to what is and what is not occurring," he wrote — a convoluted way to say that his allegations are mere speculation — in the same memo in which he questioned the accuracy of the kidnapping statistics.
The firestorm of controversy that engulfed the Phoenix Police Department and led to Chief Harris' dismissal could have been prevented.
Phoenix police officials had access to all of Roberts' memos and to the police reports that supposedly were linked to the kidnapping cases, and they had discovered similar reporting errors with homicide cases in 2007.
Even a cursory review of those documents and an honest public explanation would have likely quelled questions about the integrity of an entire police department. It might have even spared then-Public Safety Manager Jack Harris' job.
Phoenix and its police agency remained defiantly silent, allowing PLEA to shop the story and spread a one-sided tale of corruption among police officials.
Harris had to know that statistics are thrown off when police officers do not properly label cases or update case files. His department had similar issues with homicide statistics in 2007 and, thus, ordered a special audit.
The report revealed that homicide stats were wrong because detectives weren't managing their cases properly — the same problem the five-member panel found with home invasions and kidnapping cases.
Police investigators who authored the 2007 homicide audit pointed out that when "a case agent fails to update case management with proper statute and/or offense codes" . . . it "could result in inaccurate homicide statistics."
Instead, police officials repeatedly told the public for months that the kidnapping counts were valid and had been thoroughly reviewed. Neither claim was true.
Even when PLEA requested all the reports tied with the 2008 statistics, police officials didn't actually have anyone read them to get a handle of what information the union was collecting.
On January 26, Harris told the Arizona Republic that the police officials had "gone over [the statistics] multiple times and can back up every number with a report."
Not even after New Times reviewed the police reports associated with the 2008 kidnapping statistics, finding that many were not linked at all to kidnapping cases, would Harris or police representatives offer an explanation.
Harris initially agreed to an interview, but the following week had a police spokesman cancel it. New Times ran its story ("Kidnapping Capital," February 17) without any comment from the Phoenix Police Department.
A police spokesman issued a statement the following week, on February 28, confirming New Times' findings. He said a police audit of the kidnapping and home invasion incidents "determined that there are reports that do not belong in these statistics."
Phoenix officials finally launched an internal investigation into the validity of the statistics and formed an outside panel to conduct its own review.
Cavazos reassigned Harris in early March to Sky Harbor International Airport, effectively stripping him of his stripes. Harris resigned on April 15.
Phoenix officials, awaiting the findings of federal auditors, are working now to rebuild trust among residents. They are also training detectives and their supervisors on proper case management.
In the end, there were no winners.
Public trust in an entire agency was fractured because police officials failed to deal with the controversy.
Several police lieutenants, including Burgett, and the entire police department are trying to repair their muddied reputations.
A Phoenix police chief who admirably served the city for decades ended his career under a cloud of controversy and allegations of corruption.
And Phil Roberts, a loyal cop who dedicated his life to the Phoenix Police Department, turned into a bitter detractor trying to discredit his own agency, and was crippled by stress.
Sources tell New Times that Roberts suffered a mild heart attack in May. They also report that he's now back on the job, and still writing memos.
Phil Roberts is one of many PPD employees who abuse the overtime and standby systems to enrich themselves at the taxpayers expense. Someone in the corrupt city managers office needs to reign in all of those phony overtime and 24/7 standby details.
I dunno. Has anybody considered the possibility that the drug cartels who regularly murder Mexican politicians and drug enforcement personnel may have threatened Phil Roberts because he brought national attention to their activities in Phoenix?
Get back on the meds, Reich. I assure you that I am no girl. If you say it again, I might sling you down by your ponytail.
Oh, just saw Three-Name Reich posting again here. It's all about his "art." Anybody with a website can look up IP addresses of those who post, you luddite.
Again, Phil.... We all know you are Bob and T.Durden and most all of the others here. Who else would care about your nutty ass? Stop trying to turn the tables and make it about New Times. You are a conniving fool. Face it.
This article is clearly biased and poorly written. What the hell does Roberts' physical appearance have to do with ANYTHING? . . . It's time the media stopped trying to spoon feed the public half-assed hit pieces and started reporting the entire story so the public can decide for themselves. "There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion." - Winston Churchill
Phil, stop writing under assumed names. New Times can check the IP addresses, you moron. Not even your momma believes you anymore.
Actually, Harris is a winner, for waiting until April to retire as Public Safety Manager, thus insuring a second city-paid retirement pension. Hey, maybe ol' Phil G. and his buddy Cavazos can dream up another job title for him to be rehired again, and do the same job he did as Chief! You know, just in case his feelings ar hurt. Just sayin'
If lying to police is a crime, why is not a crime for a pig like this to lie to the people he serves?
Is this paper a communist paper.......I never seen anything but left slanted news and a ton on freeing illegals to run muck on society. It's amazing how a commie paper like this exists in the country.......know who your getting your news from people, this paper is absurd.
It looks like they are doing plenty of drug deals at the NEW TIMES instead of looking for new news. How many weeks can you run the same headlines?
I haven't read this article, but I notice it's been on your page for what seems like weeks! You must really love it.
Would someone please explain to me how we will decrease unemployment by granting amnesty to 12,000,000 people who entered the United States by illegal means?
The biggest problems we have here are drop-houses, human smuggling, people dancin across the border at all hours of the night..drive-by's...yeah I guess you could say our neighbors to the south keep us up most of the night.....
I've always gotten the impression that the Phoenix PD is undermanned for a metro area this size and that was before the budget troubles everyone is having.
There's enough real crime here in Phoenix - it doesn't need to be trumped up or exaggerated. I've actually seen and heard people doing drug deals and prostitution hookups in broad daylight in a few places where I used to live here in town. They are continually discovering illegal "safe houses" and meth factories. The gangs rule the streets here but nobody wants to talk about it. I was out in West Phoenix (around Desert Sky Mall - near 79th Ave & Thomas - that area) and did not see ONE Phoenix PD squad car the whole time I was in that part of town. Leads me to believe that there are actually large swaths of city that the PPD just doesn't patrol and only goes there if someone is shot or killed. Maybe you guys could do an investigation on where the police actually patrol. You see cop cars in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley all the time but other areas they are nowhere to be seen
MONEY DROP PRODUCTIONS...How does a lieutenant believe she can form a video production company which uses her units work product for it's source material to not be a conflict of interest? Sounds a lot like insider trading, using information the general public does not readily have based upon your position and profiting from it. So of course she would not have a problem with the inflated numbers, they helped make a problem seem bigger, therefore generating more attention which she could profit from. When the scam went bad she closed shop and pointed at other people as the problem. All of this is documented on abc15 investigation into kidnappings. Monica don't you think a lieutenant in charge of the unit could have easily discovered what Roberts discovered? You can't have it both ways.
Well this is what you get when you go against management a story that attempts to destroy you and say you are the problem. The truth is in working with Phil over the past 20 years none of the other so called Lt's would never be allowed to even stand in his shadow. Phil's dedication and work he has done for our department should stand on it's own merit. This is a smear story bought and paid for by burgett and her followers and you should be embarressed to put your name to it.
Oh good lord.. New times. gets delivered by Arizona republic and that's who owns the new times!.. if your white you can't get a job there. if your illegal your in! My husband and a few other white guys worked there worked them out tell they had nothing but mexicans working there
Sgt. Phil Roberts is a corrupt police officer and needs to be stripped of his badge. Just like his hero the Flaccid Fool of MCSO.
He must have been at the "throw shit at the wall and see what sticks" seminar with Candy Andy Thomas and Senator Pearce when he wrote his delusional memos supposedly exposing Phoenix PD "corruption."
This fool ruined the lives of so many people, including his victims. I hope his ass gets sued in his personal capacity.
Why the fuck does this fool still have with the Phoenix PD? He needs to be fired!!
As the actual Victim with "Call me" written on my stomach, and the fleshy finger i am outraged!!!!! These are actual photos... my story was no less than horific! For them to print this in a news paper for every one can see is a fucking outrage!!!!!!
Perhaps if Phoenix New Times put as much effort into supporting our border protection policies as it does into debunking Mexican crime statistics in the US, we wouldn't have to worry about this in the first place.
Why does this media outlet have such a pro-Mexican stance? How about we look into where some of YOUR funding comes from.
I dunno man, sounds like a plan to me dude.www.total-privacy.ua.tc
Many of these cases started with kidnappings, drop houses and narcotic violence as a result of our proximity to the border and the association with drugs coming up from Mexico to be sold in US (you know, demand) The definition for border related is new and vague and an attempt to describe the issue. The incidents of violence is enough to make the issue real and the clear connection to drugs and smuggling makes what Roberts did very shameful. the result has clouded the reality of the valid cause for concern.
So of the estimates of the kidnapping and home invasion cases attributable to border issues, Roberts went from 100 percent to less than ten percent. It only takes one unrelated case to disprove that statistic, and it would be an easy matter to do so, just checking the stories in the New Times.
How many of these cases are attributable to border issues? The question begs to be answered, but the article does not appear to address the issue meaningfully.
Interesting article, though it doesn't appear to be fair and balanced reporting. According to other media sources, Lt. Burgett also made several thousands of dollars, started a production company to profit from the statistics personally and outside the department and has even traveled to foreign countries purporting to be the kidnapping expert. The only part of this article I would agree with is the fact that the department could have, and should have, handled the accusations differently at the onset.
Oh wow, OK man thats kinda crazy when you think about it. Wow.
Oh Teddy, you are so adorable when you get all puffed up.
And BTW, you look great in that dress- the color yellow really does suit you.
Tell you what, my anonymous Tom/Ted/Tomato, how about you actually DO something rather than hide in the Internet's closet bragging about what a sassy princess you are?
It would be a refreshing change for all of us, and I know I'd enjoy it.Heck, I could use a good laugh
Until you do, you're just pounding sand- and we all know it.
On a side note: what is your obsession with my ponytail? Did a hairstylist touch you as a child?
Because seriously, that would explain a lot.
respectfully,Wayne Michael Reichhttp://www.WayneMichaelReich.c...
Um, Ted?Sorry, Tom.Oops, my bad. I really meant Tomato.
Definition of Lud·dite (ldt)-----------------------------------------------
-1) Any of a group of British workers who between 1811 and 1816 rioted and destroyed laborsaving textile machinery in the belief that such machinery would diminish employment.
-2) One who opposes technical or technological change.
So, how does either of these apply to me, exactly?
I'm not from the UK, and I actually embrace change- in my case, I hope to see the Editorzilla of this paper go bye-bye.
Stick to using words you actually know the definition of like "moron", you well... moron.
What's next? Verses from the Bible, I can only assume?You just keep hoping the mud will stick, don't you?
With no due respect- when it comes to your aim, I'm a Teflon duck, and you're nothing more than a retarded version of Angry Birds to me.
So to once again answer your delusions: I, unlike you, [a petty cyber-bully/coward] post under my full name, using two e-mails:
As you said, it's easy to check, right?Think hard about that.
However, when it comes to you...
You post under a variety of names, in a pathetic attempt to cloud the issues and heap scorn. Anonymous screeching is hardly a threat on any level, and just like in the world of the Real- you don't matter one iota here, either.
So keep hissing at me from under your bed Princess- you are such a baaaad girl.Nothing is hotter than cowardice and hypocrisy in my opinion.
Just remember when you answer- to ignore all the actual points I've raised about your hypocrisy, cowardice, and IQ, and just start leveling the 3rd grader insults and baseless slander we have come to expect from you.
And could you make it quick, please? I have a ton of laundry to do.
respectfully,Wayne Michael Reichhttp://www.WayneMichaelReich.c...
He will if you will, "Ted"- or should I say "Tomato"?
BTW, how would you know what NT can or can't do, unless you work for NT?
And why would they be checking IP's anyway- is someone was getting ticked off at being constantly slapped into ketchup?
Hmmm... who could this possibly be?
(I'd LOVE to see what IP address comes up for you, sassy girl.)
PS: I HAVE MISSED YOU!!!!
respectfully,Wayne Michael Reichhttp://www.WayneMichaelReich.c...
Monica, I'm surprised you were able to type this article with Burgett sitting on your keyboard. My guess, DOJ knows everything going on (a lot more than Newtimes) and in the end, isn't that really all that matters. I wonder if MCSO has pink underwear for ladies?
Touche' and ditto...I worked with Phil for years and although he is scrambling now his evaluation of Burgett is spot on. She used to drive around in her undercover purple Camaro with her kids car seats in the back. She is a spoiled product of Andy Hill and Andy Anderson. She followed them around the PPD like a puppy dog until she imploded as a Lt. Ask the gun squad how they liked her when she arrived as a Sgt. This story is full of inaccuracies. The HIKE squad did not want to go to DEB they were forced until Burgett saw the writing on the wall to distance herself from robbery number fiasco..
I'd sue the fuck out of Phoenix if I were you. This must be an absolute nightmare for you. I am so sorry for what happened. You need and deserve justice.
One wonders why a person makes over 100 complaints and accusations that have been UNFOUNDED. One wonders why PLEA and others continue to bleed false stories to the media. and one wonders why people continue to believe the staged agenda. One story by Ch15 Biscobing as a news source is about as outrageous as making $66k in a year where he now question the number of incidents. Investigators and supervisors make overtime, but $150k in 3 yrs??? What numbers are you comparing? He was one of the top paid on PD and bragged about it to everyone. The kidnap panel and the PD have determined where the stats have gone awry and they dealt with the statistics department. Sounds a lot like sour grapes. oh, and how exactly does an LLC profit from stats? There are so many media stories out there it sounds like a soap opera regardless of the numbers. Thanks to PLEA and Phil.
Am buoyed by this sole, sane observation in the cacophony of propaganda-driven extremism favored by an uninformed/misinformed AZ electorate. It is so SAD a statement on human society to hear SO much vindictiveness in the public voices -- especially when most of the remarks are just plain cruel.
Also find it ironic and odd that AZ agencies with a firsthand view of the unfortunate output of Mexico's deep layers of corruption somehow can condone (or perhaps uttlerly lack self-awareness of) their own corrupt or unethical tactics. At this rate, the Dept. of Justice might as well open a permanent office in Phoenix. No matter which side one identifies with in this piece, all of the alleged players seem to demonstrate the many ways that "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Sorry...I just noticed my grammatical error.
However, in my defense- I was just so darn excited to read Tomato/Ted/Tom's elegant rebuttal.
The fact that Tomato consistently posts under three names might be considered hypocrisy by some, but not me. I think hiding anonymously under the Internet's bed while pretending to be a big girl is actually kind of sexy when you get right down to it.
So in reference to my mistake, it should have read:
" is someone getting ticked off at being constantly slapped into ketchup?"
My sincerest apologies.
respectfully,Wayne Michael Reichhttp://www.WayneMichaelReich.c...
Have any of you noticed that Tom, Ted and Tomato keep using the same turns of phrase?Interesting....
How is this related to the union? It appears an employee who had knowledge of the situation made a complaint which was validated by the New Times investigation. The Police management chose to ignore the problem instead of checking the validity of it. Subsequent news reports by ABC 15 and Baphoenixcops showed how Sgt. Roberts supervisor, Lt. L.Burgett, knew there was questions about the numbers but failed to act on the questions. Poor supervision? Or possibly with the formation of a company which films and sells the video of kidnappings she was looking to cash in on a problem. It would be harder to sell your video product if you don't have the public interest fueled by media reports of the enormity of the problem. Big conflict of interest running a unit whose public work ends up making you profit in the public sector. I think the worse part is the damage all of the exaggeration of the problem has hurt meaningful immigration reform.
So what your saying is you are misinformed. There was no company with video associated with the city that sold anything from the real video. What your saying is the numbers generated interest and not the reality of a US City dealing with kidnappings. Check out Discovery, ABC National News, Newsweek, National Geographic, local news clippings who rode with the Unit, the public domain is rife with these investigations. Do you know anything about Public records laws, these are all available. Free enterprise is for everyone. regardless of the lack of any substantial evidence of conflict, according to this article of Robert's own writings, he provided the information to these NATIONAL stories. try looking at PLEA's own website as they also touted and pushed the numbers to fuel anti-immigration laws and rhetoric. It seems to me this story is interesting due to the reality, not the numbers. Oh by the way, no one disputes the reality. PLEA is behind all the media push to attack management, Chief Harris and anyone around him. Hope you are not an investigator. Conflict of interest? First you would have to prove that is true, and it is not. I saw a contract signed by the chief for another company to make a show. where is that show and where is that profit. The chief signed an agreement with another company to do a story on the unit which has been done a dozen times. Also, I do not see where anyone failed to act on the question, I have heard the recorded conversation with Biscobing and he left many things out. People write books, discuss an issue and create their own niches all the time, the great thing about free enterprise(and a hundred best sellers of people's stories) the only way to make money is people have to be interested. Seems controversy would fuel that. Try not to let facts get in the way.. Badphoenixcops I-Team investigation,,great sources.