Roberts later denied making allegations against Gordon and Burgett, but his own memos plainly show he repeatedly did.

Investigation after investigation of Roberts' assertions — dating back to complaints he filed as early as 2008 — has cleared Burgett and others.

In 2010, the Attorney General's Office investigated Roberts' accusations that Burgett had discriminated against him, but it found no evidence to substantiate his claims.

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.

About a year ago, federal investigators concluded that Roberts neither was the whistle-blower he fancied himself nor the victim of retaliation from his superiors. Police investigators determined that "pretty much everything" in Roberts' nearly 500 pages of memos was "untruthful."

Phoenix police officials' lackluster effort to review the veracity of their own kidnapping statistics allowed Roberts to continue his attacks, further damaging the department's integrity. Then-Chief Harris stood by the figures, even claiming they had been verified.

It wasn't until March 2011, when City Manager David Cavazos convened a panel of experts to review the home-invasion and kidnapping statistics that it was made public that the figures actually were grossly under-reported — not inflated, as Roberts alleged.

The panel discovered there were twice as many kidnapping cases than first believed. It attributed the problems mostly to shoddy record keeping.

While the panel vindicated the city against Roberts' allegations, it also criticized officials for failing to call for an audit sooner. The fracas effectively ended Harris' reign — he retired shortly after Cavazos reassigned him to oversee the security of municipal buildings at Sky Harbor International Airport.

A scandal of Roberts' creation caused his colleagues the anguish of fighting false allegations, called into question police and city officials' integrity, and cost a police chief his decades-long law enforcement career.

But, in the end, the controversy he sparked with a yearlong memo-writing campaign may be what ends Roberts' own decades-long career with the PPD.

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