A Review Board Recommends Firing PPD Sergeant Phil Roberts for Rampant Allegations Against Fellow Cops

Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia is mulling whether to fire Sergeant Phil Roberts, who investigators say lobbed numerous false allegations against fellow cops and city officials — and did so in a very public way.

Roberts gained notoriety in 2010 after accusing former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, former Public Safety Manager (Police Chief) Jack Harris, and others of conspiring to defraud the federal government of grant money in 2009 by exaggerating the number of home invasions and kidnappings tied to drug and human smuggling.

Roberts complained that when he "blew the whistle" on the "corruption and fraud," he became a victim of retaliation. He claimed he was transferred to unwanted assignments, given undesirable work shifts, and wasn't permitted to work off-duty jobs (which can mean lucrative extra pay for cops.)

Sergeant Phil Roberts remains on paid leave pending Chief Daniel Garcia's decision.
New Times Photo Illustration
Sergeant Phil Roberts remains on paid leave pending Chief Daniel Garcia's decision.

However, a series of internal, state, and federal investigations revealed there was little truth in the multitude of allegations that Roberts fired off through some 500 pages in the more than 40 memos he wrote between August 2009 and August 2010.

After investigating Roberts' mountain of allegations — and exonerating those he accused of engaging in discrimination, covering up botched investigations, and creating a hostile work environment — the Phoenix Police Department's Professional Standards Bureau turned its attention to Roberts.

An internal affairs investigation completed on October 12, 2012, also revealed that Roberts failed to notify his superiors "when releasing information pertinent to the department" and used city resources and his position "for personal benefit or gain."

A month later, an in-house disciplinary review board recommended that Garcia fire Roberts, and the 28-year police veteran was placed on paid administrative leave.

The investigative report — largely based on 20 hours of interviews with Roberts and, ironically, his plethora of memos — concluded, in part, that Roberts' false allegations "caused irreversible damage to the reputations of the city of Phoenix, the Phoenix Police Department, and the employees named in his documents."

Investigators say Roberts violated a police policy that prohibits employees from revealing official police business "except as directed by a supervisor or under due process of law."

Although Roberts told investigators he was unaware of such a policy, he was warned in November 2009 about "providing memos to unauthorized persons." And his own memos reflect his understanding of the "seriousness of 'leaking' information," according to the report.

Roberts sent his inflammatory memos to many organizations and individuals, including the leaders of police and civilian employee unions, the Department of Public Safety, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, the state Attorney General's Office, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor, then-state Senator Russell Pearce, the U.S. Attorney General, and individual City Council members.

He told investigators he sent the memos to various entities because "he believed his chain of command might have been compromised" and so outside law enforcement agencies could "start 'probing around' because there was a cover-up," an internal affairs report says.

City policies don't bar cops from filing complaints through the proper channels, but once reported, employees have to allow appropriate entities the opportunity to investigate, the internal affairs report notes.

"Sergeant Roberts chose instead to bombard them with additional memoranda containing redundant and embellished information," the report states. "Sergeant Roberts' 'facts' were often based upon hearsay, rumor, or innuendo, [and] his conduct was so outrageous that attempts to correct performance would be fruitless."

Investigators also determined that Roberts violated department policies by writing many of his complaints on official city letterhead and accessing criminal databases, not for a "criminal justice purpose" but to build his "defense" against the city and its police department. And, investigators say, he did it while out for several months on voluntary "stress leave."

The investigative report also details eight examples of false allegations that Roberts leveled against police officials. Lieutenant Lauri Burgett was among his primary targets.

A New Times investigation in 2011 traced Roberts' animus toward Burgett to 2008 and 2009 when she twice passed him over for a job managing the Home Invasion and Kidnapping Enforcement unit, which tracks down kidnappers.

Before Burgett became his supervisor, he had headed up such high-profile investigations. He relished the media attention, making more than a dozen appearances on national TV, where he repeatedly cited the same statistics he later alleged were inflated.

When he was in charge, he also pocketed hefty overtime pay associated with working complicated cases that involved trying to locate and rescue kidnapping victims from drug dealers and human smugglers.

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.

His resentment of Burgett only intensified in late 2009, when her team moved to the Drug Enforcement Bureau and out of the Robbery unit, where Roberts was stationed ("The Numbers Game," July 7, 2011).

In his memos, which started a month before HIKE's scheduled relocation, he frequently accused Burgett of felony crimes — and he wrote that then-Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon granted her immunity from criminal or administrative investigations.

He wrote in nine separate memos between February and July 2010 a variation on his claim that Burgett told fellow lieutenants (who in turn told him) that Gordon assured her "she had nothing to worry about."

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18 comments
cinesimonj
cinesimonj

The police get a taste of their own behavior. Maybe this will help them with their sociopathy problem.

Not likely, unfortunately.

jessepettersson
jessepettersson

Everything about this city is corrupt... for every one allegation there are five agencies who will cover it up.  This guy is probably honest in all his accusations they just set it up out here to where they CAN get away with it.  And I can say by personal experience, the federal government doesnt give a crap!

WakeMeUpWhenItsOver
WakeMeUpWhenItsOver

The PPD, most corrupt law enforcement department in the state of Arizona.  You idiots must receive your training in CHicago.

Dogbiter
Dogbiter

Now Phil, we all know badcasaa and the others on this comments train are you. Who else would take your ridiculous side of things? Dude, you were a detective for the Phoenix Police Department?! Man, that's scary!  How many people are in jail because you literally made stuff up about them? Somebody should check into that. Monica? And...I read the comment you wrote below under another name that Monica is taking the department's side because she would look bad otherwise. Bullshit! First, you, Phil, said there were that many kidnappings yourself. Than, when you decided to go after your comrades in blue, you claimed the numbers were inflated to bet grant money. Then, it turnsout that the numbers were even higher than Monica wrote, proving her point big-time, and showing you up for what you are. Phil, you really should put a sock in it. Any objective source familiar with your case, knows what a fool you have made yourself. Jeeze, man, they are going after you based on your own ridiculous written claims about fellow officers! You shot yourself in the dick, dumbass.

badcaseaa
badcaseaa

oh and look at all you pathetic New Times trolls attacking the only guy posting valid information with sources cited and all the same typical crap you losers do everytime you are proven wrong or start losing a argument.

badcaseaa
badcaseaa

You New Times Worshiping idiots need to remove your heads from your rears and understand when your "Independent" news source reports the same government disseminated propaganda as all the mainstream news outlets that they are corrupt and untrustworthy. Big surprise the people(or their buddies) he accused of being corrupt recommend he gets fired.

bobunf
bobunf

My pants sounds like a Candy Andy conspiracy nut.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

Sergeant Roberts sounds like Candy Andy and the Miscreants.

Conspiracy in government, numerous false allegations against public officials, causing harm to public officials via false allegations, etc.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

Sergeant Roberts reminds me of Candy Andy and the Miscreants.

I mean, conspiracy in government, numerous false allegations, targeting people he doesn't like, etc.

MyPantsRtightPolombo
MyPantsRtightPolombo

Here you go Stanton. The links to the stories you asked for. Even a city councilman said the PD retaliated against Phil. Hmmm, Stanton, who should I believe; an overweight New Times reporter who isnt close to the investigation or a city councilman whose job it is to know about the investigation. Go back to BevMo and get some more drink. Get some breath mints too, will you please?

http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/Phoenix-police-set-to-fire-Sgt-Phil-Roberts-who-blew-whistle-about-bad-kidnapping-statistics

http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/investigation-finds-phx-police-retaliated-against-officer-over-kidnapping-stats

CaptainJack
CaptainJack

Everyone needs to calm down for a minute.  Mypants is correct, there is more to this story than whats being reported.  Everyone has a lot involved, including Monica Alonzo.  Ya see, Monica wrote a story in 2010 saying how Phoenix had all these kidnappings and it turned out that wasn't true.  So if Roberts's claims are true, that makes Monica look like a fool.

One thing Monica did not report, nor has she ever reported, that Burgett tried to profit off the inflated kidnapping numbers by becoming involved with various television programs.  To include one that Forest Whitaker is said to be producing called "HIKE," centered around a female police lieutenant in Phoenix running the kidnapping unit.  Sound familiar???

I saw a story on this on channel 15, that said the lead investigator for PPD who did the investigation for PPD "mysteriously" retired a few months ago on claims that she may have lied to federal investigators in this matter.  I also hear there is a lawsuit involved and that the motivation behind the termination recommendation was a blackmail attempt to try and get Roberts to settle the suit.  Per the story on Channel 15, he said "no." 

I'm not sure but I don't think the last chapter to this story has been written yet, and I don't think Newtimes will be doing it.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

Hopefully Roberts gets fired. Then I hope he loses his taxpayer-funded pension. Then I hope he's barred from ever being a police officer again.

MypantsRtightpolombo
MypantsRtightpolombo

The good news is people like Assistant Chief Andy Anderson and Chief Harris are gone. Assistant Chief James A. Pina is leaving in May. Executive Assistant Chief Joseph Yahner needs to be the next to go. Kind of weird all of these people who were involved in the Roberts fiasco are leaving their job isnt it?

Hold on Monica, you may be very surprised as to the outcome of this entire mess. Question is will you have the fortitude to write about it? Be careful with Roberts, I have a feeling you are next in his sights!

MypantsRtightpolombo
MypantsRtightpolombo

Monica: You may want to slow down a bit and stop bashing Sergeant Roberts. I am not sure which OIG investigation you read, but the one I read proved Roberts worked in a hostile environment and was retaliated against. If Roberts was so far off, or making allegations that were not true, why did Chief Harris lose his job? Police Chiefs dont typically lose their job when they are right!

I wonder if Roberts will sue you for defamation, slander and false reporting with the $$$$$$ he is going to be receiving from the city very soon. You dont have a clue what has been said during depositions but if what I heard a commander and two lieutenants said, Roberts could sue you with his soon to be pocket change.

One more thing, have you seen the notes Chief McClelland wrote during a meeting when he was basically told to retaliate against Roberts when this entire fiasco began? You might want to check with TV5 and other news outlets who have this document. Pretty hard to deny Roberts wasnt retaliated after reading this document. Forteunatly PPD has some good, honest cops like Chief McClelland who are not afraid to tell the truth regardless of the political fall out they may face. This McClelland document changed everything with the Roberts case.......hold on tight Monica to your overfed belly!

marcy
marcy

@WakeMeUpWhenItsOver 

Why try to pick which one is most corrupt?  Law enforcement agencies are made up of cops and cops, for the most part, are barely civilized thugs and one step up from a street gang.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

@MypantsRtightpolombo

Then supply links to substantiate your claims.

 
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