Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's Bookkeeper Loretta Barkell Rolls on the Sheriff, Tells Us What We Knew All Along

I hate to be that guy, but we told you so.

Last night Channel 12 aired news hound Joe Dana's interview with Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Chief Financial Officer Loretta Barkell concerning the $100 million Arpaio and his upper echelon pilfered from two protected funds. The money paid for witch-hunts of Arpaio's enemies and the MCSO's Hispanic-hunting, racial-profiling sweeps.

The newly retired CFO dropped dime on her former boss, claiming that she'd repeatedly warned Arpaio and his ex-top henchman and chief deputy, David Hendershott, for a decade that the transfer of cash was against the law.

"I, in fact, sat with the former chief deputy and the sheriff and informed them of how many positions were out of place, and what needed to be done to correct it," Barkell told Dana, later adding, "And prior to last summer, they had been told every single year for the last ten years."

Barkell said Arpaio "waved his hand," telling her that he was not going to allow the "bean counters" to call the shots in his department.

She also complained to Arpaio about Hendershott bullying fellow employees, but the sheriff, predictably, did nothing.

In the Arizona Republic's follow-up piece to the Dana segment, Barkell is quoted as saying that "all the executive staff on the 19th floor" knew about what they referred to as a "cross-fund issue." 

How many times has New Times written that the record shows Arpaio is in charge of his office and that his gang of thugs on the 19th floor of the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Phoenix were all in on the shenanigans? You'd think we were all Sand Land Nostradamuses, for cryin' out loud.

Remember when the "Munnell memo" came out in September? At that time, I noted that the memorandum by Chief Deputy Frank Munnell was very convenient for the 19th Floor hacks who wanted to ensure the safety of their jobs, their status, their perks, their power.

Ho do you do this when the scrapple is hitting the proverbial fan? Point out some fall guys and form a ring around the jefe.

In the case of the Munnell memo, the black hats were worn by Hendershott, Deputy Chief Larry Black, and the man who so deeply "loves" him, Captain Joel Fox.

The white hats sat in the heads of such paragons of virtue as Arpaio's PR flack Lisa Allen, longtime MCSO hack Jack MacIntyre, Munnell, and Barkell.

The memo was leaked to local media, and the press ran with this "Arpaio was betrayed" line for a while.

But as more and more information has been made available through public-records' requests, it has become apparent even to many doubters that this swordfish is not rotting from the tail up.

Now Barkell, who first sang to the federal grand jury probing Arpaio's office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations in January of 2010, is singing to the press.

Look for the finger-pointing and the rationalizations to ramp up, with each of these 19th Floor fools blaming the other for the mess that they're in.

Arpaio told the Rep that Barkell only informed him about the $100M fiasco recently, noting that the misappropriation of funds had been going on for eight years. Previously, he's blamed computer problems and accounting procedures for the de facto embezzlement.

Which, of course, is bull. The money was funding Arpaio's pet projects, the roundups of illegal immigrants and the persecutions of anyone who got in his way through the Maricopa Anti-Corruption Effort, in which he was partnered with then Maricopa County Andrew Thomas.

Judges, county supervisors, mayors, civil servants, and more all got caught up MACE's dragnet. Charges were trumped up, all to later be thrown out by the courts.

Of course, Arpaio's penchant for retribution, his malfeasance concerning money, the corruption, the criminal cruelty of his jails, all predate MACE and the stolen $100M. 

One need only recall the 2007 arrests of Village Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey and VVM CEO Jim Larkin. The perennial scandals over pink underwear sales. The cover-ups involved in the death of jail inmate Scott Norberg. And on and on and on.

Arpaio's erstwhile right-hand man, Tom Bearup, insisted last year, "Joe knows everything that's going on." Bearup said he witnessed many of Joe's misdeeds, that the sheriff told him to lie under oath, that Arpaio knew about misappropriated pink underwear funds, and that the sheriff was a micromanager when it came to getting revenge.

For instance, in a 2009 cover story, Lacey called out President Obama for not having the stones to go after Arpaio. The piece described a 2000 recording of Arpaio talking to Chief Deputy Brian Sands as Sands went to serve legal paperwork on Bearup.

It was something a mere deputy could have accomplished, but Arpaio dispatched one of his top goons, and he called up Sands afterward to delight over every detail.

There are so many examples of Arpaio's total control of his office going back to the beginning of his 18-year reign that Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's recent conclusion that Arpaio was out of the loop when wrongdoing was going on, is laughable. 

When Babeu made such statements after the release of his agency's investigation into the Munnell memo, my colleague Ray Stern wasn't buying.

You'd have to have pulled an Oedipus and knifed out your eyes not to see, at this point, that Babeu's investigation was a charade, his depiction of a clueless Arpaio cover for a political ally.

Go back to previous accounts from MCSO employees that predate Munnell's by years. They tell the story of Arpaio's wicked ways: the 1996 affidavit of then MCSO Lieutenant Bobby Wetherell, and the 1994 memo written by former MCSO Lieutenant Roy Reyer, now the proprietor of the Overthrow Arpaio Web site.

Or just check out New Times' vast Arpaio archive. It's all there. All 18 years' worth of MCSO sleaze.

Barkell told Dana that, concerning abuses by Hendershott, after complaining to Arpaio, there was nowhere else to go.

Though I'm pleased she's finally spilling her innards, that claim sounds rather disingenuous.

For those with a conscience, there was always somewhere else to go: to the feds, to the press. Hell, if it really kept them up nights, MCSO employees could walk, find another job. Many have.

So those who've been loyal to the sheriff lo these many years have some 'splainin' to do. Perhaps some will escape indictments. But a generous helping of disgrace and shame can go a long way.

Speaking of indictments... where are they? The feds have been investigating Arpaio's office since December 2008. With Barkell and others rolling on the sheriff and his henchman, what's taking the U.S. Attorney's Office so freakin' long to lower the boom? 


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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons