Dave Hendershott, the former top aide for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, s apparently was worried enough about being charged with crimes that he hired a legal firm to help him.
That wouldn't be a problem -- except he may have gotten the county to pay the bills.
It looks like one more example, of many in the partially released Munnell Memo report, that Hendershott sometimes used county money like it was his own. The recently released documents detail how Hendershott reportedy used posse money for personal gain on at least two occasions, both of which revolved around a youth baseball league for which his son played.
In this latest tidbit, we refer you to the very last page of the 1,022-page report released yesterday by Arpaio's office. You can find the massive document split into 11 PDFs on the website of Channel 5 news (KPHO-TV), which paid the Sheriff's Office more than $500 for the copies and therefore saved interested folks like us some money.
Page 1,021 (the first page was a cover sheet) states that Jack MacIntyre, one of Arpaio's deputy chiefs, told investigators that:
...various personal legal services were provided to David Hendershott at County expense, including a research project by Ogletree Deakins to determine Hendershott's legal defenses if he was charged criminally for Abuse of Power or Obstruction of Justice arising from ongoing criminal investigations; and a research project by Ogletree Deakins to explore legal approaches if Hendershott was called before and targeted by a grand jury.
The report says information also "surfaced" that Hendershott had local attorney Dennis Wilenchik (you remember him, right?) provide legal work on some building Hendershott owns in Iowa. Although it was "not established that Wilenchik was paid directly from Maricopa County funds," investigators wrote that all of these matters would "certainly be appropriate for future investigation."
MacIntyre related the info after his talk with the investigator hired by Pinal County Paul Babeu turned to the legal invoices that Hendershott had kept in a safe in his office. MacIntyre gave up that he'd seen the research projects, and he believed the county paid for them.
So... the former chief deputy, while possibly commiting the crimes that state and federal officials were investigating him for, reportedly billed his planned legal defense to the county. What a racket!
No dollar figures are included in the brief, page-long report.
We left message for MacIntyre and representatives of Ogletree Deakins, and we'll let you know if they call back.
Meantime, as long as we're stroking Channel 5, we'll just point out two other things we like about their recent coverage of Arpaio's Watergate:
* Asking Arpaio whether he should resign may have been a silly question -- of course he won't! -- but an appropriate one, given all the scandals surroundings Arpaio's office lately. His office misspent $99 million, his command staff ran amok, and federal probes into racial profiling and abuse of power loom, so reporter Morgan Loew asked at yesterday's news conference whether he'd considered resigning.
Arpaio became visibly irritated, noting that other local leaders have experienced problems but haven't resigned. If the voters want him to stay on as sheriff, or some "other position," he'll stay, Arpaio said.
* We'd been looking at the part of the Munnell Memo report that discusses the ludicrous employment set-up of a secretary of Hendershott's, who was paid gobs of money for doing next to nothing. Then we noticed we'd been scooped by Channel 5's Lisa Leigh Kelly, who penned an interesting article on the subject.
In other Munnell Memo news today:
* The separate report on Babeu's findings about former Deputy Chief Larry Black may not be released today, after all. Black, who was fired by Arpaio along with Hendershott, was a key figure in the SCA campaign-finance-violations scandal. Investigation documents pertaining to Black's partner in alleged campaign crime, Captain Joel Fox, may not be released until after Fox runs through an appeal process, which could take a few weeks. We're highly interested in what the report has to say about the Sheriff's Command Association, because the allegations surrounding that scandal are among the most serious -- and most provable -- leveled against Arpaio's top aides.
* Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley urged President Obama and the Justice, Department in a letter, to lend their support to the federal investigations of Sheriff Arpaio and his office. An Arizona Republic article about the letter states that both Stapley and Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox have urged federal officials to get off their hineys and act:
"Based on that Babeu report, and because Arpaio was in so many of those meetings, the feds need to consider putting MCSO into receivership until this federal investigation is completed," Wilcox said. "The report clearly shows Arpaio knew what was going on and you can't have corruption like that. We have to do something about it."
* The Los Angeles Times published an article on April 30, that quotes Arpaio saying that April was a "great month" for him. There's no need to wonder how Arpaio feels about all the hits his office has taken lately -- he doesn't give a crap, as long as his public support remains strong.
We also took notice of this quote:
"People still come to me every day for my endorsement," Arpaio said. "If I'm so bad off, why does everyone want my endorsement?"
Babeu's election site doesn't list an endorsement from Arpaio, but a 2010 story on azcentral says that Arpaio did endorse Babeu for the 2008 election. In our opinion, questions about ethics should be raised if Babeu seeks Arpaio's endorsement for his 2012 bid for office, because his investigation essentially exonerates Arpaio of being complicit in his aides' misconduct.
* Fired deputy chief Larry Black talked to Channel 3 (KTVK-TV) news a couple of days ago, complaining that his name is being unfairly tarnished.
"We're not talking about I did any crimes," Black tells Channel 3.
But that's not quite true, is it? As our story from last month about the SCA scandal detailed, Black was suspected of being part of a conspiracy that committed campaign crimes. Also, he seems to forget that Babeu's investigation avoided probing criminal matters directly -- the PCSO probe has left that for the feds, who continue to investigate.
We tried repeatedly to contact Black before the publication of Love Connection, but he didn't want to talk then. Hopefully, he'll agree to answer questions after we read the full, unredacted report on what the investigation found out about his actions with Fox. Naturally, we'd also like to ask him about what really happened in Louisiana that Fox was so excited about
UPDATE: After this was published, Jack Wilenchik of Wilenchik and Bartness e-mailed us with the following info:
"Dennis wrote a demand letter to Mr. Hendershott's insurance carrier regarding wrongful denial of insurance proceeds for storm damage to a building that Mr. Hendershott owned. The insurance company paid Mr. Hendershott, and Mr. Wilenchik did not charge for the work. The County had nothing to do with this and was not billed in any way."
We were under the impression that Dennis Wilenchik's time was very valuable, so we asked why he did things for Hendershott for free. Jack Wilenchik's response: "He regularly does demand letters or other minor legal courtesies for free."
Oh, sure, he'd probably do that for anyone.
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