A Maricopa County Sheriff's Office employee is accused of leaking sensitive law-enforcement documents to a person the agency describes as an "anti-government" author.
The employee, Joseph Asarisi, shouldn't have had access to such documents, because he's not even a law-enforcement officer -- he's been doing laundry for the Sheriff's Office for the past 11 years.
According to court documents obtained by New Times, Asarisi pretended to be a deputy by using his MCSO email address as "proof" he was a law-enforcement officer, and a deputy at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office had provided Asarisi with many of these reports.
The reports, from the Homeland Security Information Network, are "law enforcement only documents pertaining to terrorism, human trafficking, Jihadist reports, as well as national and international intelligence hot sheets," according to an MCSO press release.
According to Homeland Security policies, these documents are classified as "Sensitive but Unclassified," and don't require a security clearance, but it seems pretty clear that Homeland Security doesn't want these documents handed to the laundry guy. According to that Homeland Security policy:
"Access to FOUO (For Official Use Only) information is based on "need-to-know" as determined by the holder of the information."
"When discussing or transferring FOUO information to another individual(s), ensure that the individual with whom the discussion is to be held or the information is to be transferred has a valid need-to-know, and that precautions are taken to prevent unauthorized individuals from overhearing the conversation, observing the materials, or otherwise obtaining the information."
According to court documents, Asarisi forwarded some of these documents to a man named Jack Murphy, who's a fiction writer and the managing editor of a military and terrorism news website called SOFREP.
In a press release from the Sheriff's Office, Murphy -- although not identified by name -- is called a "renowned anti-government author based in New York City."
We e-mailed Murphy about these allegations, but did not get a response. According to the Sheriff's Office, Murphy denied having any contact with Asarisi "but when pressed, quickly refused to cooperate and referred detectives to his attorney."
According to court documents, investigators believe Asarisi has been sending Murphy these documents since 2012.
According to MCSO, Asarisi was found out after IT workers "noticed a large amount of terrorism related documents on Asarisi's [e-mail] profile."
Asarisi actually was arrested on June 21, although MCSO only publicly announced the arrest yesterday afternoon.
When asked about the delay, MCSO spokesman Joaquin Enriquez told us, "This was not an easy case considering all the travel that was done to LA and New York. After Asarisi was arrested there were still more interviews and travel done to conclude this investigation."
Asarisi was booked into jail on charges of computer tampering and impersonating a law-enforcement officer, but was released without having to post bond.
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!
According to an old Arizona Republic article, the county gave Asarisi a $1,250 bonus in 2010 for suggesting MCSO stop using laundry softener.
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.