Arpaio's Fave Deputy Primed to Take Fifth During Contempt Trial

Mackiewicz: His 15 minutes at day's end suggested that he will invoke the 5th Amendment on the stand.
Mackiewicz: His 15 minutes at day's end suggested that he will invoke the 5th Amendment on the stand.

Remember junior high, when the algebra teacher caught you passing notes, then made you read one out loud to the class?

On Tuesday, this embarrassing situation played out in federal Judge G. Murray Snow's court, during questioning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's favorite deputy, Detective Brian Mackiewicz, by plaintiffs' attorney Michelle Morin.

Mackiewicz took his oath at 4:45 p.m., following a full day of tedious testimony by Deputy Chief Mike Olson concerning his review of various internal-affairs investigations. (Big surprise, Olson, a career beige-shirt, let almost everyone off the hook.)

At some point, Mackiewicz's attorney handed the detective a note. Morin homed in on it, asking Mackiewicz what it was.

Instructions from his lawyer, he said

Morin ordered him to read it. Mackiewicz stated that the note read, in part, "Fifth Amendment invocation," perhaps an augur of courtroom testimony to come. 

New Times later confirmed that Mackiewicz invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on some questions, during his deposition for Arpaio's contempt case. 

This is not surprising, as Mackiewicz is on leave of absence while under criminal and administrative investigation by the MCSO and the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

The 18-year veteran deputy faces allegations of possibly padding his overtime while he was in Seattle and of overseeing an investigation involving the MCSO's confidential informant, Dennis Montgomery, a supposed computer guru and former subcontractor for the CIA.

It's also alleged that Mackiewicz had a computer built for him by Montgomery.

Arpaio and Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan contend that Montgomery merely was providing the MCSO with information on 150,000 victims in Maricopa County, whose banking information  illegally was harvested by the CIA. At least that's what Arpaio and Sheridan claim their absurd investigation was about, until they discovered that Montgomery was, according to them, giving the MCSO "junk."

Despite this lame excuse, a plethora of evidence exists to demonstrate that the Seattle operation involved the ginning up of a ludicrous, anti-Arpaio conspiracy, involving Snow, the U.S. Department of Justice, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and many others.

Arpaio was given flowcharts and timelines of the conspiracy, purportedly created by Montgomery. And the sheriff himself typed a smoking-gun memo connecting the conspiracy's dots, with detailed biographical information about Snow included. 

The snippet of testimony Mackiewicz offered Tuesday tantalized observers, with Morin referring to a document titled "Elmer's case summary," Elmer being an apparent code name for Montgomery.

Mackiewicz said that on October 31, 2013, he and Zullo met with now-bankrupt Montana billionaire Tim Blixseth, who introduced Mackiewicz to Montgomery.

Zullo wanted immunity and Arpaio's attorneys to represent him. He got neither.
Zullo wanted immunity and Arpaio's attorneys to represent him. He got neither.

The detective described being in Montgomery's home office in Seattle in early November 2013,  as he and Zullo looked over Montgomery's shoulders at a computer screen, where Mackiewicz saw the "surname of Snow," part of a "list of names on a computer."

Mackiewicz told Morin that either Montgomery or Zullo then decided to Google the judge's name, pulling up the name "Murray Snow."

At this point, Morin played part of Mackiewicz's videotaped deposition.

"It was actually [Cold Case Posse commander] Mike Zullo's idea [to Google Snow's name]," said Mackiewicz. "I had no idea who the judge was in the [Melendres] case."

On December 3, 2013, Mackiewicz said there was a meeting at the office of then-state Attorney General Tom Horne between MCSO employees and the AG, which Arpaio arranged and attended.

Arpaio has testified that he brokered two or three meetings with Horne to discuss immunity from prosecution for Montgomery. 

Additionally, Mackiewicz testified that Montgomery became a confidential informant for the MCSO sometime around December 6, 2013.

Court recessed before Mackiewicz's questioning could go further.

When Mackiewicz's testimony picks up again, likely more will be revealed about the parallel investigations mentioned above.

The CIA's illicit harvesting tale serves as a convenient cover story for a more sinister effort on Arpaio's part to find ammunition to use against Judge Snow, the jurist who found the MCSO guilty of racial profiling in 2013 and who ordered reforms for the MCSO and a monitor to implement them.

Sergeant Travis Anglin, also part of the Seattle operation, has testified that he was ordered not to investigate Snow by Sheridan. He said he told Mackiewicz likewise.

But to Anglin's knowledge, Zullo never was given such an order. Nor was Montgomery.  Zullo, according to text messages between Anglin and Zullo, was vigorously pursuing an investigation of Snow through Montgomery.

In a related matter, Mackiewicz's pal, Zullo, recently has been suffering a legal losing streak.

In a telephonic hearing held in front of Snow on Monday, plaintiffs attorney Stan Young said, up until two days before Zullo's scheduled October 23 deposition, Zullo believed that Arpaio's attorneys at Jones, Skelton, Hochuli would represent him.

Zullo showed up to the deposition without an attorney and refused to answer questions until he could obtain legal counsel.

The posse man told Young he was in contact with an attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, whom he wants to represent him.

Snow pressed Arpaio's attorney, Joe Popolizio, during the Monday hearing on whether his firm represents Zullo.

Popolizio kept waffling, and Snow gave him until Tuesday to decide whether it's yes or no. He also ordered that Zullo's attorney, if he obtains one, file any request for a protective order on the disputed documents by Friday.

Otherwise, Snow said he will order the docs released to the plaintiffs.

During the Monday teleconference, Snow said the plaintiffs could reschedule Zullo on a deposition but raised the prospect that Zullo may just take the Fifth, with or without an attorney. 

Arpaio's criminal lawyer, Mel McDonald, suggested that Judge Snow grant Zullo "use immunity," allowing the used-car salesman to testify without worry that his testimony could be used by prosecutors. 

McDonald said, "The fear of Zullo is potential criminal liability regarding his relationship with Montgomery."

But Snow said  he was "unlikely to grant any sort of use immunity for testimony" and that he would not make any decision regarding this until McDonald first had talked to the U.S. Department of Justice about immunity for Zullo.

Tuesday morning, Richard Walker, an attorney for Maricopa County, said he had discussed Zullo's wanting immunity with the U.S. Attorney's Office, but that it did not show interest in seeking immunity for Zullo.

Popolizio confirmed finally that he is not representing Zullo. McDonald said he had advised Zullo to get a criminal attorney.

Just when Zullo's deposition and his testimony will occur remains an open question, though plaintiffs say they only have three witnesses left: Zullo, Mackiewicz, and the remainder of Captain Steve Bailey's testimony.

Defense lawyers say they will only call of couple of witnesses. Currently, closing oral arguments are scheduled for November 10, after which Snow will make findings of fact, impose sanctions, and, eventually, make possible referrals for criminal contempt for one or more of the five defendants.

Arpaio and Sheridan already have admitted to civil contempt of court. 

Mackiewicz will be back before Snow at 9 a.m. this morning.

For live Tweets during breaks in the contempt hearings, follow @StephenLemons or search #ArpaioContempt on Twitter.


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