Detective Tim Abrahamson, who played a lead role in some of the discredited MACE investigations that led to the disbarment of former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, drove to North Dakota in September and attacked his wife's ex-lover, police say.
Abrahamson created a ruse to get close to the man, then beat him severely with some kind of weapon, say North Dakota authorities. Part of the victim's ear was sliced off.
Records show that Abrahamson planned the attack meticulously and drove to North Dakota on a day off with another Maricopa deputy, Steven Carpenter.
Carpenter was given immunity by North Dakota authorities in order to tattle on Abrahamson, which he apparently did.
We've long suspected that some of Arpaio's MACE guys really were thugs.
The alleged dirty deed began with an affair between Trinity Abrahamson, the detective's wife, and a past boyfriend, Jason Swart of West Fargo. After reconnecting on Facebook, they met in North Dakota in July of 2011 and had sex, according to court documents first reported in the Grand Forks Herald.
A few weeks later, the married woman told Swart her husband had learned of the affair.
In August of this year, Swart received a Facebook message from Trinity's sister, who wrote: "Do you have any idea of the pain you have caused my family in the last year? Do you have any idea what Trinity has had to go through because of you?"
On September 16, Swart came home by himself after a lunch with family members. As he stepped out of his car, a black sedan pulled up.
The timing makes us think Abrahamson and Carpenter, who were in the black car, must have been spying on Swart's home for a while, waiting for him to arrive.
A man that Swart later identified as Abrahamson emerged from the sedan and walked up to him, holding an envelope. He said he'd been receiving Swart's mail.
"Mr. Swart stated that he turned to open the envelope, and then realized he was lying on the ground in a pool of his own blood," records state.
As the Herald reports, the sedan, Abrahamson and even the envelope was gone.
Abrahamson had apparently rented the car from the same rental-car business used by the Sheriff's Office, but had told the company he was going to South Dakota for a personal trip.
Police found numerous text messages between Abrahamson and Carpenter, and later obtained cell-phone records that showed both men had been on the road trip together.
West Fargo police contacted the Maricopa Sheriff's Office a few days after the assault and let them know Abrahamson was the suspect. The Sheriff's Office put him on paid leave.
The Herald says he was placed on unpaid leave after his arrest at the Sheriff's Office on Wednesday. Officials plan to extradite him to North Dakota.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Abrahamson worked over various MACE projects, including at least two that involved ethical abuses. One was the investigation of a local computer company related to a squabble between the Sheriff's Office and the county's computer department. Dave Hendershott, Arpaio's trusted former chief deputy, allegedly ordered the drafting of an improper search warrant on the company in that case.
Abrahamson helped investigate and gave key testimony to a grand jury in the cooked-up "bug sweep" case against County Supervisor Andy Kunasek. Hendershott, probably with Arpaio's blessing, was reportedly using the case to take over county leadership. After the grand jury heard the testimony by Abrahamson and Hendershott about various crimes alleged against county officials, jurors agreed the cases were so bad that the Sheriff's Office should stop investigating.
Arpaio's office didn't return messages about the case. We wanted to ask if Carpenter is being investigated by the Sheriff's Office for possible policy violations, and whether Abrahamson had a clean record at the agency before this incident.
"Clean" being a relative term at the Sheriff's Office, naturally.