Sheriff Arpaio Ratted Out Commanders Who Complained About Former Chief Deputy David Hendershott
Don Schneidmiller, former deputy chief for Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio, said that every time Arpaio's top commanders would complain about an unethical former chief deputy, Arpaio would rat them out.
Image: ABC News
Nobody likes a snitch, right?
Unless the fink's name is Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose supporters seem to tolerate all sorts of bad behavior.
Arpaio's own employees have had to put up with his tattling on them for years.
And we're talking significant betrayals by the sheriff, not minor office politics. Had Arpaio listened to the complaints of his own top men and women, he wouldn't have had to wimpishly complain later that he'd been "duped" by his former chief deputy, Dave Hendershott.
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We're bringing this up now because, as one of our readers pointed out, Arpaio testified this week that Lisa Allen, his spokeswoman, was the only one who complained to him about the abuses of Hendershott. (See the comment by "OnlyInArizona.")
Neither video nor audio of the hearing, (one of many hearings in former sheriff's captain Joel Fox's appeal to get his his job back), is available yet, so we're not sure exactly what Arpaio said.
But whatever Arpaio said, we thought you might want to know more about just who did complain, and what happened when they did.
Dave Hendershott, former chief deputy under Sheriff Arpaio, has become Arpaio's top scapegoat.
The facts show that Arpaio wasn't really duped by Hendershott. Until the moment that Hendershott was put on leave in late 2010, Arpaio had used the chief deputy to carry out his wishes.
Arpaio's top commanders, most of whom shared the 19th floor with Arpaio at the Sheriff's Office headquarters in the downtown Phoenix Wells Fargo tower, knew that Arpaio had an inner circle of trusted employees, and also an "inner, inner circle" that consisted of Hendershott and deputy chiefs Larry Black and Scott Freeman.
You already know that Arpaio had to fire two members of that inner, inner circle -- Hendershott and Black -- when the public got wind of serious malfeasance on their part. The results of the investigation released last May showed that Hendershott and Black had committed policy violations and possibly broken laws related to unethical criminal investigations and campaign work.
The other inner, inner circle member, Freeman, claimed to law enforcement investigators last year that at least "50 times" he'd had "private or semi-private" moments with Arpaio in which he'd tell the "truth" about apparently untruthful things Hendershott had claimed, or about ethical compromises Hendershott was making on an investigation.
"And undoubtedly within 12 hours of that conversation, Dave Hendershott would call me," Freeman told investigators with Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's office who were probing allegations against Arpaio's men. "When I would say something the sheriff didn't want to hear, I'd catch it on the back end."
This happened for years, right up until 2010, when Hendershott was forced out.
Freeman said he never bothered to press Arpaio hard with clear evidence of injustice by Hendershott because Arpaio made it "abundantly clear" that Hendershott was "his guy."
Deputy Chief Don Schneidmiller also painted a picture of Arpaio as rat-fink.
Schneidmiller, who now works with another of Arpaio's former deputy chiefs, Terry Young, at the Surprise Police Department, told Babeu and his investigators that "on three or four occasions, chiefs went in and spoke to the sheriff privately. And laid out their concerns (about Hendershott). And asked that they be kept to themselves, that it would be a one-on-one conversation.
"And every time those private conversations and the sharing of those concerns got forwarded to Dave," Schneidmiller said.
Thanks to Hendershott's reputation as a real son-of-a-bitch, Arpaio's snitching spread fear throughout the upper ranks. Arpaio could then do what he wanted with fewer complaints from his troops.
Schneidmiller recalls how Young once told him his "biggest fear" was that Hendershott would use his vast law enforcement powers to target enemies within the department. (Of course, these same deputy chiefs didn't seem to give a crap when Arpaio and Hendershott targeted anyone other than them.)
Young said he worried that Hendershott would "put you in his bull's eye, make up some cockamamie excuse to investigate you criminally, using office resources to do it -- doesn't cost him a nickel -- and ruin you personally, financially, to fend off the allegation. And, (Young) said, that could happen to any one of us at any time."
Schneidmiller claimed that "most people" on the 19th floor felt the same way.
Jack MacIntyre, legal counsel for the Sheriff's Office, recalled that sometimes when he criticized something Hendershott had said or done, Arpaio would tattle to Hendershott.
Arpaio's current chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, remembered telling Arpaio that Hendershott was "running the place."
"Ah, that's bullshit -- I run this office," Arpaio told him in reply.
On other occasions, Sheridan said that he'd share his advice with Arpaio, who would "tell me I was stupid" and do the "opposite of what I said."
Sometimes Sheridan believed that he was speaking to the boss in confidence. But he learned over time that "the sheriff was not worried about protecting his source of information."
Hendershott would find out what Arpaio had heard "and then you'd get your ass kicked" by Hendershott, Sheridan complained.
Sheridan, Freeman and MacIntyre still work for Arpaio.
But they sure as heck can't trust him.