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.
Last week, Foreman notified attorneys that he intended to make Cool's letter a part of the case's public file.
Arpaio attorney Harry Cavanagh and Posse Foundation attorney Roger Gilbert asked that the letter from Cool be kept confidential. But at a hearing Friday, Cavanagh also told Foreman that, at Arpaio's request, he was requesting Foreman be removed from the case.
"Well, that's interesting. I'm not sure exactly what it is I do with this memo now," Foreman told attorneys at the hearing.
"I would request, your Honor, you keep everything confidential until this matter can be heard, because it's an obvious attempt, it looks like to me, to make something public that should not be made public," Cavanagh answered.
"Well, in view of the fact I'm no longer on the case, counsel, I'm not sure I have the authority to order it sealed. . . . It seems at this point . . . that you've kind of shot yourself in the foot," said Foreman.
Foreman denied Cavanagh's request to keep the letter secret, and put it in the public file. He told Cavanagh to save his arguments for the new judge. Attorneys in the case expected a hearing to be set later this week.
"The following is a time line, which shows a pattern of illegal activity including misuse of County Funds, harassment, retaliation and an effort to create a false, criminal charge against an ex-County employee, who has announced his candidacy for the Office of Sheriff," reads Cool's letter.
Cool could not be reached for comment.
But he writes that in July 1997, his wife ran into Darren Bearup, one of Tom Bearup's sons, at Wal-Mart where Darren worked. At that time, Tom Bearup was still one of Arpaio's aides. He has since left the sheriff's office and has announced his intention to run for sheriff in the 2000 election.
Cool says that Darren told his wife that Darren's brother, Patrick, was keeping explosive materials under his bed.
Darren Bearup today tells New Times that this isn't true. He says he talked to Marie Cool about the Bearup brothers' landscaping business, and he mentioned that Patrick had bought a large amount of ammonium sulfate at that Wal-Mart. Darren remembers Marie asking whether that was the substance used in the Oklahoma bombing. He says he doesn't understand how the Cools interpreted this to mean that his brother had explosive materials under his bed.
Cool writes that he notified the ATF about the possible explosives, but heard nothing from ATF or anyone else until December 1997.
By then, Tom Bearup had left the sheriff's office and had made public his concerns about misuse of money in the sheriff's office and Sheriff Arpaio's deep "paranoia" ("Doubting Thomas," November 6, 1997).
Cool says Hendershott came into his office in December and asked whether Cool was still a member of Bearup's church and whether he had ever heard Bearup say that Hendershott was "Satan" or that Bearup wanted Hendershott dead. Cool said no. Hendershott asked if Bearup had asked others to pray for him because of political attacks by the sheriff's office. Cool says he denied that Bearup had said anything about such attacks, but considering the political climate in the office, Cool says he assumed that Bearup might be thinking about such things. He also told Hendershott of the incident between his wife and Darren Bearup.
A few minutes later, Cool says, Hendershott ordered him to write a memo titled "Security Concerns." Hendershott wanted one paragraph to describe Darren Bearup's supposed statement about explosives in the Bearup household, and another paragraph describing Tom Bearup praying for "strength to battle the attack from within the Sheriff's Office," Cool writes.
Cool says he objected, saying he thought the memo was misleading. But Hendershott insisted, he says.
When detectives following up on the memo asked him about it later, Cool says he told them he really had no security concern; the memo was simply something Hendershott had told him to write. "I was very upset that I had been put into a position to have to write a memo and then deny its validity," Cool told Romley.
Later, Hendershott confronted Cool. Hendershott "entered my office very angry, and stated 'I never ordered you to write that fucking memo. You don't understand. I need to investigate any threat against the sheriff.'"
The next day, Cool writes, he was admonished by Hendershott's aide, Lieutenant Frank Munnell, who, Cool says, told him, "He [Hendershott] just wishes you would have been more of a team player."
Cool writes that he thought the incident was forgotten until a month ago. In April, he says, detectives from the Internal Affairs bureau were investigating recent claims that deputies were tailing Arpaio's enemies. Cool says he was asked again about the Bearup memo.
"They asked a lot of questions regarding Hendershott and his role in the writing of the memo. They then probed into his angry episode in my office. I told them the same story and was excused. I had heard rumors that federal indictments were possibly pending, and this made me worry. I wondered if I would be retaliated against," Cool writes.
A week later, Cool found himself the subject of an internal investigation.
Cool says he was accused of making an inappropriate remark and giving out confidential information to a deputy, he says.
Cool says his remark was no more serious than when he had heard Sheriff Arpaio say, "Rick Romley, I am going to fuck him!"
In his letter to Romley, Cool writes: "Not for a moment have I thought that he [Arpaio] was going to have sexual relations with you."
Cool learned Friday that the sheriff's office intends to fire him as a result of its internal investigation.
Gerberry, of the Maricopa County Deputies Association, says he thinks it's clear that Cool has been targeted because of the harmful information he had provided about Hendershott.
Cool's letter to Romley comes at an inopportune time for Hendershott; the U.S. Attorney's office is currently investigating deputy claims that Hendershott also ordered the altering of sworn statements in order to get a deputy fired. Robert Wetherell, who first made public those claims, says Cool's letter bolsters his and other deputies' assertions that Hendershott and Arpaio use gestapolike tactics to assure deputy loyalty.
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