Joe Arpaio's Boy Rich Burden of "Colorado Kool-Aid" Fame Retires Due to Pending Demotion
The last time this blog bothered with MCSO Lieutenant Rich Burden, it was 2011, and I had stumbled across a video of Burden on YouTube taking great delight in imbibing "Colorado Kool-Aid in California," and making an un-PC crack about drunk driving.
"I am not drinking and driving, at all," the do-rag-wearin' Burden tells the camera. "I drink, then drive."
Burden later told me the video as an "error" and an "oversight" on his part.
Known as a one-time pal of fired, disgraced former Chief Deputy David Hendershott and somewhat infamous for his participation in past MCSO shenanigans, Burden more recently had been promoted to captain, and was acting commander of MCSO's District IV, which includes Cave Creek.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers
TicketsFri., Jun. 9, 6:40pm
Phoenix Mercury vs. Los Angeles Sparks
TicketsSat., Jun. 10, 7:00pm
All You Can Eat Value Pack - Mercury v Sparks
TicketsSat., Jun. 10, 7:00pm
Phoenix Rising Football Club vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
TicketsSat., Jun. 10, 7:30pm
But in a letter Burden emailed a couple of days ago to fellow MCSO employees, he announced his sudden retirement, saying Chief Deputy David Trombi had informed him that he "did not meet Office Standards," and was being busted back to lieutenant.
"I was made aware by Sheriff Arpaio's Command Staff today," writes Burden, "that they have decided I did not meet the satisfactory completion of my probationary period for the position of Captain.Their intention is to demote me back to Lieutenant and transfer me to MCSO Training."
Burden relates that the MCSO's upper echelon did not offer a reason why this was done, and that it did not have to, because he was still on probation for his promotion to captain.
The lieutenant discusses the "shock & awe" of his situation, claiming he didn't see it coming.
"It's amazing to go from one day at mock 5 [sic] and the world being an awesome beautiful place to full reverse with Mar's [sic] attacking and no end in sight," Burden states.
Despite Burden's surprise at being demoted, he seems to allude to some incident that may have prompted the MCSO's decision.
"I want each of you to know, I did what I thought was right and at the same time knowing each of you were my number one concern," he writes. "My career is and will be unfulfilled do to this unforeseen decision made today."
Granted, it's a vague statement. Since Burden's phone number was at the end of the letter, I gave him a call. Naturally, he sounded bummed. I asked if there had been an internal affairs investigation of some kind ongoing.
"Yeah," he replied. "But it wasn't focused on me."
Burden declined to say what the IA was about.
Asked about Burden's letter, MCSO spokesman Brandon Jones offered the following statement:
"The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office followed all applicable procedures in the revocation of retired Lt. Rich Burden's temporary promotion to District IV Captain. We appreciate Lt. Burden's year of service."
I have requested any and all IA reports and other documents involved. It will be interesting to see what Burden's talking about when he tells his colleagues, "I did what I thought was right."
New Times has written about Burden on several occasions prior to my blog on the Colorado Kool-Aid video.
A Hendershott loyalist for many of his years, Burden once ordered another deputy to rifle through the trash of longtime Joe-foe Jim Cozzolino, according to a 1999 article by ex-New Times scribe Tony Ortega .
Burden reportedly authored a search warrant to obtain Cozzolino's phone records, supposedly because "Arpaio's investigators considered Cozzolino a suspect in a death threat against the sheriff."
This, of course, was total bull. At the time Cozzolino, now a frequent commentator to this blog, was the right-hand man of Tom Bearup, Arpaio's former chief deputy, who was planning to run against Joe in 2000.
Bearup was also the victim of surveillance and bogus investigations by the MCSO back then.
Some may recall that Burden was involved in a 2002 altercation with former Phoenix Coyotes player Brad May, where May supposedly punched Burden outside a Scottsdale club.
As a result, Burden pressed charges against May, and later sued him, reportedly scoring a $26,000 court award.
My colleague Ray Stern reported that onetime Deputy Chief Larry Black, known for his "love connection" with ex-Captain Joel Fox, offered to hook Burden up with season's tickets to Coyotes games, if Burden would drop the whole thing.
Black's offer was one of the revelations of the so-called "Munnell memo," a document authored by Deputy Chief Frank Munnell that spilled truckloads of dirt on the inner workings of Arpaio's office.
The memo resulted in an investigation of the sheriff's office by Arpaio's political ally, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. The Babeu report dished on additional MCSO controversies.
For instance, Babeu's report detailed the workings of the Maricopa Anti-Corruption Effort, or MACE, a product of Arpaio's partnership with now-disbarred and disgraced former Maricopa County Attorney Andy Thomas, which the pair used as a means to retaliate against their enemies in county government.
Burden was once assigned to the unit. Hendershott micromanaged MACE investigations, and wanted MACE detectives to produce a warrant to search the offices of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. The rotund chief deputy was looking for evidence that the supes had used taxpayer funds to sweep county offices for MCSO-planted listening devices.
MACE detectives, including Burden, refused to write up such a warrant, even though Hendershott threatened to "machine gun" any detective who would not do his bidding.
Burden and others were later moved out of the MACE unit by Hendershott because of the incident.
Ultimately, Arpaio was forced to ax Hendershott as a result of the Babeu investigation.
It's worth mentioning that these ginned-up MCSO probes of county supervisors, judges, and county employees led to the disbarment of Thomas and his onetime hatchetwoman, ex-Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon.
Stay tuned for more on Burden's departure, if and when I get it.
Below is Rich Burden's letter to his colleagues regarding his sudden retirement:
Richie's Final Open Letter: Date: June 28, 2013
I was made aware by Sheriff Arpaio's Command Staff today, that they have decided I did not meet the satisfactory completion of my probationary period for the position of Captain. Their intention is to demote me back to Lieutenant and transfer me to MCSO Training. This has come by way of a meeting I was at with Chief David Trombi. He handed me a memorandum stating this fact and would not give me any reason why, just told me I did not meet Office Standards, and it will be effective July 8th. On July 8th I am so ordered to be demoted without cause back to LT (due to probationary status they don't need to show cause, nor do I have any rights to appeal)
Now, since we have got through the shock & awe and got that out of the way, I wanted to express my true feelings. I will be putting in a memorandum today to advise the Sheriff's Command of my intentions to retire on Sunday June 30, 2013. This in itself is an incredible & difficult decision, but one that needs to be made. It's amazing to go from one day at mock 5 and the world being an awesome beautiful place to full reverse with Mar's attacking and no end in sight.
I am telling myself everything will be okay, and I am sure it will be, it's just very hard to see through the fog of war right now. Either way, I will make it through this and mark it up to a bad dream. I am currently working with Human Resources personnel who are assisting me with the proper paperwork and giving me some idea of what to expect during this part of the journey.
So what happens now for District IV and its personnel? First off, everything is going to be okay, no major changes I can foresee for you at this time. Lt. Kip Rustenburg will be taking over command until a Captain is appointed. Kip is a good person and I have full faith in her ability to lead from the front. Continue to keep her apprised of any situation needing her attention and always strive to make her feel appreciated by doing your best at the job you love.
I want each of you to know, I did what I thought was right and at the same time knowing each of you were my number one concern. My career is and will be unfulfilled do to this unforeseen decision made today. I am in complete shock due to this decision and I will most likely never have closure because there was no explanation of cause. I will make it though this and with help from my family and friends I will do okay.
I want to thank you all for doing a great job and please keep it up, stay the course and always watch each other's Six. I am sick thinking about how much I will miss going to work each day, hanging out talking about cases or events which have occurred and most of all, I will miss each one of you!
Take care & God Speed SheepDawg's & Crimefighters, until we meet again... If you want to stay in touch, if not, I fully understand... I'm Out... Peace
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.