Arpaio's Seattle Detective Under Criminal Investigation, Has Choice Words for Judge Snow
Three amigos: The men involved in the MCSO’s Seattle investigation (from left to right), Sergeant Travis Anglin, Cold Case Posse commander Mike Zullo, and the MCSO’s lead investigator on the case, Detective Brian Mackiewicz.
Detective Brian Mackiewicz was in a cranky mood when I called to speak with him about the events of July 24, when federal Judge G. Murray Snow ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to seize evidence from the MCSO's property lockers.
At issue were 1,500 IDs confiscated from Latinos by the Sheriff's Office and slated for destruction, as well as 50 hard drives of data from supposed Seattle computer guru Dennis Montgomery.
Snow's MCSO monitor, Robert Warshaw, and his team, empowered to see that Snow's commands are followed in the big civil rights case Melendres v. Arpaio, learned that the material had not yet been turned over to the court, as Snow has insisted such potential evidence be, time and time again.
In fact, at the request of a lawyer from the U.S. Department of Justice, Snow recently ordered that the MCSO's Montgomery material — which, at the time, the court believed amounted to one hard drive and two bankers boxes — be made available to the DOJ to review and copy.
But recently released e-mail chains to and from Mackiewicz, Montgomery, and others involved in the so-called Seattle investigation suggested that Montgomery had turned over as many as 50 hard drives to the MCSO, and the monitor discovered they were being held under a departmental report number at MCSO property lockers.
Mackiewicz told me that until the July 24 event happened, he had believed that the DOJ would "work it out" with the Sheriff's Office.
"Then, all of a sudden, Judge Snow pulls, 'My dick is bigger than Joe Arpaio's dick, and this is what I'm going to do because I'm a federal judge,'" Mackiewicz cracked. "And he goes ahead and makes this order to seize the drives."
The detective, an 18-year veteran of the MCSO who says he's planning to retire if and when he hits his 20-year mark, insists the drives "weren't slated for destruction," as the 1,500 IDs evidently had been.
Mackiewicz enjoying some vino...
I should note that the 1,500 IDs are unrelated to the Montgomery material.
Still, as with the 50 hard drives, they point to a troubling pattern on the MCSO's part.
In court on July 24, Warshaw expressed serious concerns about why the 50 hard drives had not been turned over following April hearings in the ongoing contempt trial of Sheriff Arpaio, Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, and three other former and current MCSO muckety-mucks.
Warshaw informed Snow that the MCSO had turned over only a "single hard drive" and that the monitor team had been told by MCSO Deputy Chief Bill Knight that the sole drive was "the only material in possession of the agency relevant to the Montgomery matter."
The monitor then related his concern that the MCSO's property unit possibly is getting used as "a repository or lockbox for holding away from either public scrutiny or court scrutiny documents that were obtained either unscrupulously [or] illegally."
This certainly jibes with what I've been told about the DR number related to the 50 hard drives.
Back in May, my sources informed me that DR 14-007250 was being used to hide information related to the Seattle investigation from the monitor.
A public-records request by me for that report and anything associated with it subsequently was denied.
Considering the MCSO's ongoing defiance of the monitor and Snow's court, Arpaio and Sheridan's admission of civil contempt (with criminal contempt charges a serious possibility), and the MCSO's history of destruction of evidence in Melendres — for which the MCSO previously has been sanctioned — Snow's July 24 order to the marshals to seize the evidence in question makes sense to me.
Not to Mackiewicz, though.
"Judge Snow is the most biased, unprofessional, unfair person on the face of the Earth," the detective told me. "And that's just my own personal opinion."
Mackiewicz is not terribly fond of the monitor, either.
"I'm getting killed by the fucking monitor right now," he said, adding that the monitor wanted to make him into the "evil bad guy" in all this.
"The monitor wants [to know] everything, including how many times I take a shit," he griped. "But they don't want to sit down and question me about what's going on."
And yet, the detective believes the monitor staff will interview him after they have interviewed everyone else involved in the Montgomery affair, which makes sense from "an investigative standpoint," he acknowledges.
During the course of several conversations with me, Mackiewicz admitted that he is under investigation by the MCSO's Professional Standards Bureau, though he would not say for what.
My information is that the investigation regards allegations that Mackiewicz spiked his overtime while he was in Seattle babysitting Montgomery.
This, as Montgomery supposedly fleshed out an oddball conspiracy for the MCSO, involving the DOJ, Snow, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and many others.
There is another allegation that Montgomery, paid more than $120,000 by the MCSO during the course of the secret probe, built a computer for Mackiewicz.
Asked for confirmation of the PSB inquiry into Mackiewicz's conduct, MCSO spokeswoman Lisa Allen declined to give details.
"It is a criminal investigation, but because of that, I can't say what the allegations are as the investigation is ongoing," she wrote in an e-mail. "But, yes, it is a criminal investigation and it began earlier this year."
When I asked Mackiewicz whether Montgomery ever built him a computer, he was noncommittal.
"That has no bearing on anything," he replied.
He also strenuously denied any hanky-panky with his overtime.
"I would never in a million years do anything illegal, take money from taxpayers," he told me.
I wondered about reports that he spent time visiting wineries and bars during his sojourn in Seattle, sometimes spending hundreds of dollars at a go, and about photos I'd seen of him in Seattle with lady friends.
Mackiewicz said, if he went to bars or wineries, he did so on his own time and with his own money.
Though his base salary is about $70,000 per year, Mackiewicz says, he has "other revenue streams" and made a total of about $200,000 last year.
In addition to overtime, there's the money he makes from the several rental properties he owns, which are collectively worth around $400,000, according to the County Assessor's website.
He says the money he makes on rentals is about $80,000 a year. He also says he makes money from teaching but declined to say where he moonlights.
As for the Seattle investigation itself, he says it had nothing to do with Judge Snow and everything to do with an identity-theft probe involving 400,000 Arizonans.
What about flow charts and timelines from the investigative files, wherein Snow's name is mentioned?
"Dennis Montgomery did all that on his own," Mackiewicz said. "He provided us with documentation that he thought would prove to us that Snow was up to no good."
But the MCSO never asked for it, he claimed, and did nothing with it.
Mackiewicz also denied that the 13-month Seattle investigation may have cost as much as $1 million in public funds, as my sources say.
Rather, it was probably "a third of that," he told me.
Despite e-mails wherein he and Cold Case Posse commander Mike Zullo chided Montgomery for not being forthcoming, Mackiewicz believes some of the material they got from Montgomery was legitimate.
"Every time I would lose faith in [Montgomery], he would come up with something that you couldn't look past," he said. "You'd have to sit there and say, wow, how in the world does this guy have what he has?"
Mackiewicz says he'll go ahead and "jump through all these hoops" for Judge Snow, "and all this other bullshit he wants me to do."
But that doesn't mean he'll like it.
"It's about time someone sticks up for their fucking selves," he said, "and tells this judge exactly where to go."
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.