Recently released excerpts of depositions of Joe Arpaio's former attorney, Tim Casey, and others in the sheriff's ongoing contempt case point to possible perjury by Arpaio and his chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, during their April testimony in federal court.
The excerpts, made public as part of the court record, also confirm that Arpaio believed in and was very much in charge of the so-called Seattle investigation, a year-long effort by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to prove the existence of an anti-Arpaio conspiracy involving the U.S. Department of Justice, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and the federal judge overseeing the contempt hearings, Judge G. Murray Snow.
In a September 16 deposition of Casey, Arpaio's former counsel on the underlying case, Melendres v. Arpaio
, the lawyer describes an unusual meeting at the Sheriff's Office that occurred in late 2013 or early 2014 involving Arpaio and various lawyers, including Deputy County Attorney Tom Liddy and Arpaio's attorneys on a parallel lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, John Masterson and Joe Popolizio.
Casey said the purpose of the meeting was to "evaluate how credible [Dennis Montgomery] was."
Montgomery is a Seattle-based computer consultant who worked as a confidential informant for the MCSO and was paid at least $120,000 in RICO funds during the course of the probe, which sources say may have cost as much as $1 million.
On a speaker phone during the meeting, Casey said, were two MCSO employees calling in from Seattle, though he could not recall their names.
These employees described information about the supposed conspiracy gleaned "from some sort of NSA/CIA data dump" to which Montgomery, a former CIA contractor, had access.
Casey said he and the other lawyers in the room thought Montgomery's information was "hogwash."
"I remember the lawyers talking," he said. "And I remember talking to my co-counsel [Liddy]. And it was a dead issue in my book. It was worthless. It was vindictive. And we would have no part of it."
Asked by a plaintiffs' attorney if there was anyone in the room that day who found Montgomery's information to be accurate, Casey said yes.
"My client," he said. "Joe Arpaio."
It should be noted that Casey was ordered by Judge Snow to answer such questions about his former client over the objection of his own counsel.
Similarly, a September 9 deposition of MCSO Sergeant Travis Anglin, who had been assigned to the Seattle investigation along with Detective Brian Mackiewicz and Cold Case Posse Commander Mike Zullo, offered a damning appraisal of Arpaio's involvement in the Seattle conspiracy caper.
Anglin described a January 2, 2014, meeting at MCSO headquarters that involved himself, Arpaio, Professional Standards Bureau captain Steve Bailey, Zullo, Casey, Masterson, and Popolizio.
Montgomery, Anglin said, called in to the meeting.
The sergeant brought with him a flowchart (referred to as a "matrix") that Montgomery had created to describe the alleged conspiracy against Arpaio.
Anglin said he asked Montgomery how he had come up with the information in that document and others, such as a timeline of the conspiracy that Montgomery had produced.
The "general answer" was that it came from "CIA-harvested" information.
"That's the only [explanation] we ever got about it," Anglin testified.
Arpaio had the matrix in hand during the meeting, but, Anglin said, no one at this meeting other than himself questioned where the information had come from.
The sheriff had just one question for Montgomery, Anglin said.
"I specifically remember him asking Montgomery . . . if all of this information is true, and [if] he had in fact taken items from the CIA that proved that [the CIA was] harvesting information illegally from the U.S. public, [then why hadn't Montgomery] been assassinated," recalled Anglin.
Anglin said he had a subsequent meeting with Chief Deputy Sheridan in which he provided the chief deputy with articles critical of Montgomery's work. The stories were from Playboy
and the New York Times
and also included a Wikipedia entry on Montgomery.
The sergeant said he specifically asked Sheridan: "Are you asking me to investigate a federal judge?"
Sheridan told him "in no uncertain terms" that he was not to investigate a federal judge or anything to do with President Obama's birth certificate.
Instead, he was to investigate the "allegations of illegal harvesting."
Anglin testified that extensive travel to Seattle and back by himself, Mackiewicz, and Zullo was "ordered by Sheriff Arpaio."
The plaintiffs' attorney quoted two communications relevant to the Seattle investigation, which Anglin recalled seeing.
The first was an e-mail from an alias of Montgomery's to Zullo.
It said: "Seems . . . the only people not talking to the Judge G. Murray Snow was Sheriff Arpaio and his attorneys."
The other was a text message from Zullo stating: "Hell, I would wear a dress and ruby red slippers all year if we can prove this."
Anglin testified that in May 2014, he met with Arpaio and advised him to "distance himself from Mike Zullo and Dennis Montgomery."
Subsequently, Anglin was taken off the case.
In a September 8 deposition, PSB commander Bailey testified that he expressed his concerns to Sheridan about Montgomery, saying he thought Montgomery was unreliable and that he no longer could approve MCSO payments to Montgomery.
But, Bailey said, the payments to Montgomery continued, though he claimed that he did not know who approved them after he stopped doing so.
In his recent deposition, Sheridan said that he knew nothing of the meeting described by Casey.
But he admitted that he knew Zullo was pushing Montgomery for the latter's "work product," right up until the eve of the first round of contempt hearings, as demonstrated by an e-mail from Zullo to Montgomery for that purpose dated April 20, 2015.
"I know that we had paid Dennis Montgomery an awful lot of money," Sheridan testified. "And he had nothing to show for it and that on occasion [Zullo] would contact him [about it]. I was aware of that."
During the hearings in April, both Arpaio and Sheridan agreed with Snow that what they got from Montgomery was "junk."
And both denied they had been investigating Snow as part of the anti-Joe conspiracy.
Snow asked Arpaio about a June 2014 New Times article
that first revealed the Seattle investigation.
"You see that the article says that what Montgomery was actually doing was investigating me?" Snow inquired of Arpaio on the stand. "You see that that's what the article says?"
"It's not true," Arpaio answered.
The sheriff also denied that he had been running the investigation.
Sheridan backed up Arpaio's testimony, characterizing the Seattle operation as involving "computer tampering crimes" and the CIA's supposed hack into personal bank accounts, including those of 50,000 Maricopa County residents.
However, given what Casey and others have said under oath in recent depositions, at least in the sections that have been made part of the court record, the "computer tampering crimes" explanation reads like a cover story.
Indeed, the Seattle investigation appears to be part of a larger effort to undermine Snow's court, which also included a separate investigation into random statements allegedly made by Snow's wife in 2012 to an acquaintance at a Tempe restaurant.
Both investigations were used by Arpao's attorneys in motions to have Snow recuse himself from the case.
In July, Snow denied the recusal motion
, a decision that has since been upheld by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The contempt hearings are scheduled to resume on Thursday, and discovery and depositions will continue right up to the beginning of the proceeding.
Arpaio and Sheridan already have admitted to civil contempt of Snow's orders in Melendres
Three other current and former MCSO officials are on the hook for civil contempt, as well.
Arpaio and Sheridan face possible referrals of their cases for prosecution of criminal contempt.
Other issues in the contempt trial involve the withholding of evidence and the disobedience of Snow's orders.
Snow recently ordered defendants and witnesses to testify about whether Arpaio's attorney, Michele Iafrate, advised them not to reveal to the court's monitor the existence of 1,500 IDs, even after Snow ordered such evidence turned over.
But the testimony of Casey and others regarding the Seattle investigation suggests the possibility of crimes other than criminal contempt.
During the Casey deposition, at which Snow was present, the judge commented on the possibility that Arpaio and Sheridan may have been untruthful under oath.
"I do remember previous testimony regarding aspects of whether or not this court was ever the subject of an investigation by the MCSO or if the MCSO ever knew of an investigation of which this court was the subject," Snow said, according to the deposition's transcript.
"And I received answers, I think, from Sheriff Arpaio, from Chief Deputy Sheridan," he continued. "And then there was a statement made under penalty of perjury by Sheriff Arpaio."
Granted, perjury cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute and, therefore, are rare.
Still, Snow could use the allegation, along with numerous others, as part of a referral for criminal contempt by Arpaio and Sheridan to the local U.S. Attorney's Office.
Note: Hat tip to attorney Teresa Rollins for her research into all things Montgomery-related.