Blowing His Cool

Maricopa County sheriff's director David Hendershott ordered detention officer David Cool to produce a false memo suggesting former sheriff's employee Tom Bearup was plotting to "attack" the sheriff's office with explosives, Cool alleges in a letter to County Attorney Rick Romley.

Cool's letter, which contains other allegations of improper conduct by sheriff's officials, was placed into court records last week by a Maricopa County judge over the objections of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's attorney, who wanted it kept secret.

On April 27, Cool, a detention officer in Madison Street Jail, submitted a six-page letter to Romley containing several allegations about Hendershott's order to create the false memo, Hendershott's involvement with posse money, and Arpaio's intention to "fuck" Romley. Cool asked for protection under the state's whistle-blower statutes.

Romley forwarded the letter to U.S. Attorney Jose de Jesus Rivera, who is currently overseeing multiple federal investigations of the sheriff's office, and to Maricopa County Superior Court where a lawsuit involving sheriff's office records was heard.

Cool's letter was made public as part of a 1997 New Times lawsuit against Arpaio. The newspaper has been seeking public records from the sheriff's office about money collected and spent by the Posse Foundation for pink-underwear sales. The sheriff's office has declined to produce any accounting of the money, saying it had no involvement with posse money generated through pink-underwear sales.

But Cool's letter disputes that. He says he participated in audits of pink-underwear inventories while on duty as a detention officer working in Hendershott's enforcement-support bureau, and that he was responsible for maintaining receipts and delivery orders for the underwear. Cool also says Hendershott ordered supplies of the underwear without the Posse Foundation's knowledge or permission.

Romley, in a letter to the court, said he was passing Cool's allegations on because he believed they were relevant to the New Times lawsuit.

However, more potentially damaging to Hendershott is Cool's claim that the director ordered him to write the false memo. "He wanted me to create a legal form, that would falsely accuse Tom Bearup of illegal activity," Cool writes.

Hendershott attended a court hearing Friday morning during which lawyers representing Arpaio and the Posse Foundation argued to keep Cool's letter under seal. That effort failed.

Later that day, Cool received a letter informing him that the sheriff's office intends to terminate him, says Ken Gerberry, who, as secretary-treasurer of the Maricopa County Deputies Association, represents Cool.

Cool will receive a formal hearing regarding his termination this Friday, but Gerberry doubts that Cool will receive fair treatment.

The hearing's presiding officer, Gerberry says, will be director David Hendershott.

In 1997, Cool was a member of Hendershott's "enforcement support" bureau, which oversaw Arpaio's massive expansion of the citizen posses and their fund-raising activities.

The Posse Foundation and the sheriff's office were being asked to account for hundreds of thousands of dollars in seemingly missing pink-underwear money.

Cool tells Romley that the sheriff's office was well aware of the concerns. "And at one point, Lt. [Frank] Munnell said that Director Hendershott ordered many hundreds of pair without the consent of the Foundation. . . . I remember that the board was upset that they had not been consulted prior to the order being placed by the Director."

That same summer, New Times sued Sheriff Joe Arpaio, seeking records of the money raised by the pink-underwear sales.

But sheriff's officials contended that the sheriff's office itself had nothing to do with the distribution, sales and accounting of the underwear. Not only were the posses solely responsible for that work, Arpaio argued, but he also claimed that the posses were independent from the sheriff's office. As nonprofit organizations, and not governmental bodies, the posses weren't subject to the state's public records law, Arpaio's attorneys insisted. The court agreed.

But Cool's letter suggests that the sheriff's office wasn't truthful.
Cool says he and another deputy were ordered by Lieutenant Munnell, an aide to Hendershott, to audit the "scattered inventory" of underwear in 1997, a job that he estimates cost taxpayers $1,600.

Cool was also asked to "control the distribution, marketing and billing" of underwear to the county's 7-11 stores.

In court, however, Munnell and Hendershott claimed that the sheriff's office was not involved in moving the product or accounting for the underwear.

Romley writes in his memo to the court that, on the advice of the chairman of his ethics committee, Dick Mesh, he decided to pass Cool's letter on to the court.

"I have an obligation to turn this information over to the court of record that handled the public records' lawsuit brought by the New Times against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office," Romley wrote in a confidential memo to Superior Court Judge John Foreman.

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Tony Ortega
Contact: Tony Ortega