This is the story of how love aided and abetted a criminal conspiracy.
Larry Black and Joel Fox both are high-ranking lawmen with more than 20 years at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
Along with Sheriff Joe Arpaio's number two, Chief Deputy David Hendershott, Deputy Chief Black is a part of the MCSO's inner circle. He is a former deputy who retired four years ago to collect his pension, then immediately was rehired by Arpaio as a civilian. He met his younger friend and subordinate, Captain Fox, in the 1990s while they were assigned to the Lake Patrol.
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Black is an avid ice-hockey player who once managed security at Phoenix International Raceway. Both are married with children.
They've been through a lot together, such as the time they helped rescue Boy Scouts stuck in a flooded wash near Sunflower in 1998. Three troop members drowned, but two Scouts and a parent were pulled to safety.
In 2005, Fox was a new SWAT commander on the night two deputies got shot in Mesa (one was Sean Pearce, son of state Senator Russell Pearce). After the incident, Black was accused of adjusting the ranks and duties of subordinates (including putting Fox in charge of the Sheriff's Office SWAT team) based on their political work for Arpaio.
Black denied the allegation, even though 140 sworn officers and supervisors were shifted around in a mass transfer almost unheard of in other agencies — with the sheriff's loyalists moving up and supporters of his rival that year, Dan Saban, going down. Fox had been among the deputies who filed nominating petitions for Arpaio's campaign.
In Joe's Law, an autobiography about Arpaio published in May 2008, the sheriff's hired author describes how Arpaio sent a group of 100 deputies and posse members to New Orleans in 2005 to help with the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
"Word [was] New Orleans was sealed off, so Chief Black and Captain Joel Fox headed out first, driving in his 4x4 from Phoenix," the book states. Joe's Law goes on to describe how Black made a deal with a Louisiana sheriff to get the convoy into New Orleans in return for the use of a helicopter flown in by posse member Doug Fulton, son of Valley developer Ira Fulton.
A few weeks later, the same team went back to the Gulf region to help the victims of Hurricane Rita, and Arpaio couldn't have been prouder of his troops.
Yet in e-mails obtained by New Times, Fox and Black mention how something happened on the trips that doesn't seem related to safeguarding New Orleans from looters. It was something that Fox says changed their lives and that Fox wants Black to experience again.
Months after the trips, the two expressed their emotions in writing.
"I think you know how I have felt since yesterday," Black writes to Fox on Saturday, April 8, 2006, in an e-mail titled "battles." "I have not thought or done anything but go over in my head how all of this got all out of w[h]ack.
"I want to live like Louisiana every day, and I will not stop trying, but I am not perfect or even close, so it takes constant effort even in the face of defeat," Black goes on. "Battles or perceived battles with you hit my heart and not my mind, which means I don't think first, which causes things to get worse."
Fox replies a few hours later that he's been in "turmoil" since they last spoke. Black isn't the same man he was in Louisiana, Fox complains.
"You see, I got to see you in your Glory, when you were Free. I got to see the real Larry, being Larry, and enjoying it like nothing has ever been enjoyed before," Fox writes. "I hope you don't misunderstand what I mean by the 'real Larry.' Of course you are real, all the time. I mean the way you felt in Louisiana. The freedom I speak of is the freedom you enjoyed for that two weeks. The 'real' Larry is free. I see you going farther and farther away from that freedom, and it breaks my heart.
"No matter what happens, no matter what it looks like when the battle is over, I will be here with you, loving you. I will sharpen your sword, mend your armor, show you a few new tricks, and heal your wounds."
The e-mails, found by investigators on Cox Communications servers and on a computer registered to the Sheriff's Office in Fox's home, span years and express sentiments that go beyond mere friendship. The writers often sound like love-struck teenagers.
"Now say, for example (and I know this is not true) the [B]ible said to stop loving you, then I would NOT stop loving you," Fox wrote to Black in 2007. "So my love for you is more important to me than the Bible. And if you punched me in the mouth and knocked me down, I would get back up and chase after you to find out why. Because my love for you is more important than my pride. This also is why I don't care what people say about us."
Fox states that he will love others in his life, but Black "will always be the most important one."
Black would later deny to state and federal investigators that he and Fox had a homosexual relationship.
Whatever the situation, other employees noticed that Black treated Fox with favoritism.
And when Black and Fox teamed up to manage a secret slush fund, apparently at the behest of Chief Deputy Hendershott, they became partners in campaign crime.
The love affair isn't just fodder for gossip — it cuts to the heart of what became known as the SCA scandal. It helps explain why Fox went along with the scheme by superiors and why, when authorities began asking questions about the secret fund, Fox engaged in desperate stonewalling, for months refusing to divulge the donors' names or the identities of who was behind the group, even as he was being threatened with a $315,000 fine.
Fox wasn't just trying to shield the donors or the Sheriff's Office from scrutiny. He wanted to protect the man he loved.
After Black retired and was rehired, Arpaio said part of Black's job was homeland security. But — as he and Fox would later admit — another part was being a "political hack."
Black enlisted Fox, who considered his superior officer the greatest love of his life, to help him on a stealth project for the 2008 election. The mission, according to public records, was to secretly raise tens of thousands of dollars from corporations and a few rich people to fund a powerful smear ad against Arpaio's opponent again in the sheriff's race, Dan Saban — campaign finance laws be damned.
Helping to get contributions for the shady fund became Black's "primary project" in his new civilian position, Valley developer and then-Phoenix Coyotes owner Steve Ellman, a friend of Arpaio and Hendershott's, would tell investigators.
Ultimately, the project morphed into one of the worst allegations of corruption to hit the Sheriff's Office in Arpaio's 18-year reign — and one that may yet result in indictments for the main players.
The alleged violations include contributing to a campaign in the name of another, earmarking party or political action committee contributions toward a specific candidate, and using corporate money to make a prohibited contribution. In addition to campaign violations, investigators suspect Fox of fraudulent schemes for his role and Hendershott of running an illegal enterprise and obstruction of justice, according to search warrant returns in the case.
New Times has published dozens of articles on the matter since it first exploded in the news media three years ago, including a comprehensive cover story on July 23, 2009 ("All the Sheriff's Men").
The scandal centers on the group of insiders that Fox called the "SCA." Fox told Republican Party officials that the acronym stood for "Sheriff's Command Association." Fox opened a secret bank account in 2006 that grew to contain more than $113,000, thanks to the direct deposits of senior sheriff's officers and the generosity of Ellman and several of his rich friends.
Three months before the 2008 election, the state Republican Party accepted and deposited a check for $80,000 from the group, which had not filed financial reports as the law required. Three weeks later, the party accepted a $25,000 check from the SCA.
Party officials then got to work on a TV ad intended to destroy Saban's campaign. Racy material for the ad had been taken from a deposition Saban gave in a 2007 defamation lawsuit he had filed against Arpaio's office.
"He misled a government agency about allegations of rape. Saban was investigated for exposing himself to a child," the female voice-over intoned in the 30-second spot. "He masturbated on county time."
Even in the context of campaign-attack ads, the hit piece was truly dirty. Even Lisa Allen, Arpaio's spokeswoman, told investigators she thought it was "despicable" and that it made Arpaio's shop "look like scum."
Saban called Arpaio a "coward" for not admitting after the ad came out that his office had something to do with it.
The spot, which ran on October 1, 2008, drew sharp criticism from the public and was yanked off the air. The Democratic Party filed a complaint against the Arizona GOP on October 14 after learning the ad had been funded by a mystery group.
From the beginning, Sheriff's Office critics noted that the SCA and those behind it had violated one of the basic tenets of campaign-finance law — transparency.
When Fox refused to name the individual donors — which would implicate his love interest, Black — the state GOP returned the $105,000 in SCA money. But that was only after the Republican Party, which had been short of cash until the SCA arrived, spent the money on the Saban ad and a second attack ad targeting Tim Nelson, the opponent of former County Attorney Andrew Thomas that year.
The refund didn't make the problem go away for either the party or the SCA.
County elections director Karen Osborne referred the case to the County Attorney's Office. Thomas, who had a conflict of interest because of the Nelson ad, kicked the case to private attorney Jeffrey Messing.
Fox faced a fine of triple the amount of the illegal $105,000 contribution but argued with officials for months that he wasn't legally obligated to reveal the donors' names. Finally, when he had exhausted every appeal and the $315,000 fine loomed, he gave up the names in July 2009.
The list revealed that Hendershott and Black were donors, as were wealthy people with ties to Arpaio and Hendershott. But even then, Fox lied about the extent of Black's involvement. In one e-mail to Black during Messing's inquiry, Fox admits he was trying to shield Black.
Meanwhile, in December 2008, the state elections department referred the SCA matter to the Arizona Attorney General's Office, sparking a criminal investigation. That probe stalled last year as former state AG Terry Goddard, a Democrat, fought unsuccessfully for the governor's seat against Republican Jan Brewer. Tom Horne, the new Republican state AG, deferred the case last month to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
So whether the scheme's perpetrators get brought to justice now rests with federal officials, who have run a parallel investigation into the SCA scandal since 2009 — and who are checking into other allegations against Arpaio's office, including abuse of power.
Fox and Black did not return e-mails or calls for this article.
It's unclear why the state couldn't produce an indictment. Judging by an 802-page investigative report on the case released last month by the AG's Office, evidence of crimes appears solid.
The one glaring omission: No evidence directly links Sheriff Arpaio to the scandal.
New Times filed a legal request for the SCA report in January, after Horne took office. The records finally were released three weeks ago, after the newspaper threatened to sue under the state's public records law.
Inside the report are write-ups of dozens of interviews, e-mails, and other evidence gathered in searches of Hendershott's e-mail account and of Fox's home (including the love letters between him and Black), as well as summaries of various findings by veteran lead investigator Mike Edwards. The entire report can be read on New Times' website ("SCA Report Reveals Depth of Conspiracy," April 1).
It's an unprecedented look into criminal behavior within the Sheriff's Office.
The report details how Fox, Black, GOP leaders, and some SCA contributors were evasive, suffered from memory lapses, or lied blatantly when confronted by investigators.
It proves how Fox — who basically was just a patsy used by Hendershott and Black for the SCA scheme — lied to election officials, an administrative law judge, the news media, and even his own family.
And it reveals how much the scandal is connected to the love that Fox and Black apparently share.
The SCA debacle was the brainchild of David Hendershott.
The chief deputy is Arpaio's most trusted aide — or at least, he was until the sheriff put his second-in-command on paid administrative leave last September, along with Black and Fox. They're all in big trouble, and not just because of the SCA. MCSO Deputy Chief Frank Munnell implicated the three men in a raft of policy violations and potential crimes. Munnell outlined his allegations in a widely publicized 65-page memo ("Joe Arpaio's Watergate," September 17).
Since the case involved Arpaio's most senior deputy, Hendershott, the sheriff asked Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu to review Munnell's accusations. The SCA case report digs into the background of why all this came out: Munnell's wife had phoned Hendershott to tell him that her husband was talking to the FBI, which has conducted a long-running abuse-of-power investigation into Arpaio's office. Munnell, worried that Hendershott would retaliate against him, launched a preemptive strike with last September's tell-all memo. The results of Babeu's investigation are expected to be released any day now.
In his powerful position, Hendershott had the ability to turn on the charm or the intimidation. He's the man who ran the Sheriff's Office while Arpaio was out scoring photo-ops at busts of maids and gardeners in illegal-immigration raids, and Hendershott has been Arpaio's campaign manager and primary fundraiser. Just before the last election, he was said to have taken several weeks off from his county job to crank on the sheriff's campaign.
Two years before the election, in the summer of 2006, Hendershott called Karen Osborne, the director of county elections, and asked her to meet him at a Coco's restaurant in Phoenix. They'd never had a meeting outside county offices before, she later told investigators.
Hendershott informed her that he was interested in setting up a political committee and wanted advice about corporate funding.
"We've got big money we can get to out there," Hendershott said. "There is big money we can bring in to this effort."
She remembers him saying, "We've got to crush these people."
Osborne said to AG's Office investigators that he was "referring to the opponents for the sheriff's next election."
Osborne explained to Hendershott that under state law, corporate money could be donated only to organizations that focus on political issues, not to candidates. If corporations donated directly to a PAC that aimed to help Arpaio's race, for example, the money would "ink the well," tainting the rest of the PAC's money, she told him.
The best way to handle the matter was to set up two PACs, she said. One could help the candidate, and the other, which could contain corporate donations, could help with general political issues.
(The maximum contribution an individual could give to both candidates and PACs that help candidates in county races in the 2008 calendar year was $5,610. As will be detailed, five SCA contributors chipped in more than that.)
Reached by New Times, Osborne says it wasn't clear at the time whom Hendershott wanted to "crush" but that he could have been referring to Saban.
She would find out later exactly what he meant.
On October 6, 2006, Black and Fox registered two PACs with the county: Arizona Association High Ground and Arizona Association High Ground Issues. So far, so good — it was just as Osborne had advised.
But on the same day, Black and Fox also opened a bank account at Wells Fargo for their secret PAC, and this is where the contributions went. The report shows that Black and Fox never asked anyone to contribute to the two legal PACs — and the probable reason is that following the rules wouldn't have brought in as much money for Hendershott's purposes.
As would become important evidence later, all three PACs shared the same address: It was a personal P.O. box set up by Larry Black in 2005 for himself and a family member. Post office records show that Joel Fox's name was added to the account soon after.
It wasn't long before Hendershott began pushing command staff to make monthly direct deposits to the SCA account. Scott Freeman, a deputy chief over special investigations, told investigators that Hendershott said the fund would help deputies. He recalled that the chief deputy said to see Larry Black, who had "put together" the organization, about setting up a direct deposit.
When interviewed by investigators in 2009, Jerry Sheridan, the sheriff's director of detention, said he discussed the fund for the first time in Hendershott's office. Sheridan "thought the money was to be used for the sheriff," the report says, and Sheridan recalled how Hendershott (or maybe someone else) told him the fund would be "a PAC or like a PAC."
Munnell, who was Sheridan's friend, also said he thought that when Hendershott first told him about the fund, he said it was "like a PAC."
Munnell said Hendershott later coached him to tell investigators that Hendershott never said it was "like a PAC."
The reason is obvious — if the SCA was a PAC, subject to legal reporting requirements (so secret donations cannot be made to candidates), then Hendershott broke the law.
The cover story was that Fox was the only one with control over the fund, and since he was just one person, he couldn't be a PAC. Fox's position was that he was just a guy who took donations with the aim of helping fight negative media coverage of deputies. He said he didn't know why people sent money to the account or how they found out, and that it was his choice alone to give the money to the Republican Party.
(When Fox's fund was made public, Osborne, the county elections director, declared it was a PAC.)
After Hendershott learned that investigators would come calling, he stopped by Freeman's office and told Freeman that he should recall how Hendershott hadn't been involved with the SCA — that it had been Black who had solicited Freeman for the fund.
"Scott Freeman told Chief Hendershott that was not his recollection," the report states.
It wouldn't have been wise for Hendershott to be legally tied to the SCA, because he was neck-deep in the campaign, Sheridan told investigators.
It makes perfect sense: If a top campaign aide had subordinates set up the SCA, the claim of independence from the campaign falls apart.
Like Freeman, Sheridan was told by Hendershott to see Black about making SCA donations. Sheridan said he didn't contribute because Black didn't return his calls. Later, the harsh anti-Saban ad would upset Sheridan, who believed Arpaio didn't need it to beat Saban.
"Chief Sheridan thought that Chief Hendershott and Larry Black were responsible for the ad, but he had no direct proof," the report states.
Rollie Siebert, an MCSO civilian employee who works at a training center, told investigator Edwards that Hendershott asked him to make monthly payments to the fund and that they talked about the sheriff's 2008 re-election campaign in the same context as the donations. Siebert also recalled a conversation in which Hendershott told him that, as far as Saban goes, "We're well prepared, and we're gonna stick it up his ass."
Sheriff's employees Hendershott, Fox, Black, Scott Freeman, Frank Munnell, and deputy chiefs Brian Sands and Jesse Locksa ended up donating a total of $12,150. (Fox, however, had an ATM card for the account and withdrew his $2,050 contribution before the election.)
The fund really took off, though, in 2007 — when Hendershott and Black tapped into the "big money" he had mentioned in his meeting with Osborne.
On the way home from the Hurricane Rita expedition, veteran Deputy Gary Labenz died of a heart attack in his hotel room. Munnell's 2010 memo states that Fox personally selected Deputy Anthony Navarra to replace Labenz as supervisor of the Special Assignment Unit, the sheriff's SWAT team.
Munnell and other senior staff members thought the promotion was absurd, since Navarra was a rookie deputy.
Fox wrote an e-mail on October 24, 2005 — Munnell didn't state who received it — that he had picked Navarra because he needed "a certain personality that I think Tony exemplifies."
Fox further claimed that Labenz had told him in Louisiana, just before he died, that he should "give Navarra a shot at the SAU supervisor position, a statement that the SAU deputies were not buying," Munnell wrote.
Navarra served under Fox as the SAU's supervisor until January 2008, when a complaint was filed against him. He was suspected of sexual misconduct with a minor at his church.
Munnell's memo states that e-mails between Fox and the openly gay Navarra, discovered in an internal investigation, "revealed numerous phrases such as 'kisses,' 'hugs,' and 'love ya,' suggesting the existence of a romantic relationship between Fox and Navarra." In another e-mail, Fox told Navarra not to worry about the internal review because they were "protected."
James Miller, the MCSO's former chief of internal affairs, brought the e-mails to Hendershott's attention. But Miller was ordered by Hendershott not to interview Fox, Munnell wrote. The sexual-misconduct allegation didn't pan out, but Navarra later was charged with two felonies for misusing his computer. He later pleaded guilty in 2009 to one misdemeanor count of unauthorized access of criminal-history records and was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation.
Fox, like Black and Hendershott, often worked at Arpaio's headquarters on the 19th floor of the Wells Fargo building in downtown Phoenix. To Lisa Allen, the sheriff's spokesman, Fox was an enigma — a "quiet man" who holed up most of the time in his office.
E-mails between Fox and Black from 2007, entered in the state's SCA report, show how the pair dabbled in various personal and sheriff-centric websites, including some that were related to the upcoming 2008 election.
When he wrote to Black, Fox used a different e-mail account from his typical J_fox@cox.net — he used "email@example.com." Although he occasionally used the jdzorro e-mail account in exchanges with family members, his use of the handle in his contacts with Black seemed to bring out the romantic in him. He also touched on religion in these messages.
"I just had one of those flashes," he e-mailed to Black on May 25, 2007. He goes on to describe how there are "two kinds of Man," visionaries and missionaries. Black being the former and himself being the latter:
"You see differences between us and see a lack of unity, but those differences are precisely what make us such an effective team," Fox wrote. "It was our differences that drew us together in the first place, and our differences that keep us together now. Keep the vision. I love you."
On June 1, Fox sent Black a rambling, religious essay that concludes, "Jesus does not advocate separation. He preaches love, forgiveness, and brotherhood. Would Jesus become a Christian?"
Two months later, on August 1, Fox responded to an e-mail that Black had sent him that contained a list of domain names Black apparently had purchased and managed.
Some domain names suggested a desire to start a business together.
The list includes: electsheriffjoe.com, mcsocommand.com, officialsheriffjoe.com, sheriffcommand.com, thoughestsheriffinamerica.com [sic], blackfoxonline.com, blackfoxservices.net, blackfoxservicesonline.net, goalieproductions.com, and sheriffstars.com.
Fox asks Black, "I'm assuming the reelection site would be on electsheriffjoe . . . or do you want it on one of the others?"
The site electsheriffjoe.com became Arpaio's 2008 campaign site.
This e-mail refutes Fox's claim that he operated independently of Arpaio's campaign.
Developer Steve Ellman has been a good friend of Arpaio's for years. Ellman also is a buddy of Hendershott's.
Anna Hendershott, the chief deputy's wife, opened a restaurant in Westgate, a Glendale development of Ellman's, but it failed. Recently, the state AG's Office released another document related to an investigation into Hendershott. These records show how Munnell alleges that Hendershott may have been a "significant" investor in a Northeast Valley spot that Ellman wanted to develop. Munnell says Hendershott told Loretta Barkell, Arpaio's former finance director, to forgo the typical impact study on the land's need for police services — something that could potentially help Ellman. This case, like the SCA case, now is in the hands of federal investigators.
The mega-developer was pals with Larry Black, too, because of their shared interest in hockey and the sheriff's posse, which Black oversaw. Ellman became a member of an exclusive "advisory posse," as did some of the wealthy people he introduced over the years to the sheriff and his top men. Their names were omitted from a list of posse members that Arpaio's office released to New Times in 2009.
In early 2007, Ellman told investigators, Black asked him for a check. He said he gave Black, the guy who collected his regular campaign contributions for Arpaio, a check for $25,000. It's difficult to believe some of Ellman's statements to investigators, in part because he'd had time to prepare for the questions. He admitted during his May 2009 interview with investigators that Black had contacted him and they'd talked about the investigation.
The developer brought his attorney, former state AG Grant Woods, to the meeting with investigator Edwards. He told Edwards that he didn't know Joel Fox and hadn't heard of the SCA or the Sheriff's Command Association. It seems Black and Hendershott were Ellman's only SCA contacts, and Black apparently confused the name of the group — to him, it wasn't the Sheriff's Command Association, it was the Command Officers Association. Indeed, that's the entity to which all non-Sheriff's Office contributors wrote their checks (though all were deposited in the SCA account).
Ellman claimed that the sheriff's men first tried to sell the fund as a nonprofit organization and that he wrote the $25,000 check in April 2007 from his nonprofit foundation. He told investigators that he didn't think the money would be used to help Arpaio politically. Ellman and his wife already had given the maximum $390 apiece to Arpaio's 2008 campaign, he said.
Even if the SCA were a legitimate PAC — which it wasn't — it wouldn't be allowed to accept earmarked five-figure donations.
Though Hendershott, Black, and Fox must have been familiar with Arizona's campaign-finance rules, it's unclear whether the biggest contributors to the SCA knew they were breaking the law.
Jim Wikert, a Coyotes investor and occasional business partner of Ellman's from Dallas, told investigators that Hendershott, Black, and, possibly, Brian Sands first sold him on the idea of a nonprofit fund that would help deputies or be used to assist injured or fallen officers. Wikert had known Arpaio and Hendershott for years — a few years earlier, they had given him a tour of Tent City.
The Dallas businessman recalls several conversations with the sheriff's men about the fund, though he said he never spoke about it with Arpaio. At one point, Ellman called him and suggested that Wikert's donation be $25,000, like his. Then, Hendershott called and told him exactly how to make out the check.
Wikert cut a check for $25,000 on April 15, 2007, to the Command Officers Association and sent it directly to Black's Mesa home. But the check's memo field had a note that said "pac contribution," which Hendershott almost certainly didn't tell him to write. Asked about that by investigators, Wikert's memory went blank. He didn't remember writing it — maybe one of his assistants wrote it, he said. No, he didn't think that the money would be used to help Arpaio politically, he added, going on that he and his wife already had contributed the max to the sheriff's campaign.
In mid-July 2007, Wikert was in Alaska and called Ellman to invite him on a multi-day fishing trip. He told investigators Ellman asked whether it would be okay if he brought up a few sheriff's guys with him on the plane. The Valley developer took along Hendershott, Black, Sands, and now-retired Deputy Tom Tyo. Wikert recalls plenty of talk about the SCA fund on the trip.
At Big Bear Lake in Alaska, Black pulled Ellman's April check out of his wallet and explained that the idea for a nonprofit had fallen through. The SCA needed a check that didn't come from Ellman's nonprofit foundation. On the last day of the trip, July 15, Ellman wrote a new $25,000 check to the Command Officers Association.
Tom Gimple, an Alaska businessman who'd been on the fishing trip, sent his own $25,000 check much later — it was dated New Year's Eve 2007. Like Wikert, Gimple accidentally offered future investigators evidence of illegal earmarking by writing on the check, "Vote for Sheriff Joe Arpaio." Investigators later found in Fox's home a letter signed by Gimple and dated December 30, 2007. The short note read: "Enclosed is my personal check in the amount of $25,000. Please accept this donation in support of the 'Vote for Sheriff Joe Arpaio' campaign."
B.M. "Mac" Rankin, a Texas businessman who is a vice president of the Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoran mining company wasn't on the trip but told investigators he chucked in $5,000 on August 1, 2007, after discussing the fund with either Hendershott or Black. James Liautaud of Jimmy John's Sandwiches, headquartered in Illinois, donated $10,000 in February 2008 from his corporate account.
Nick Fergis, a self-employed investor from Scottsdale, wired $10,000 to the SCA account in January 2008 during a Christmas party at the house of Scottsdale lawyer Jordan Rose. The former posse member said he called Hendershott, who told him how and where to send the money.
Because Jordan Rose's husband, Jason, worked as Arpaio's political consultant in 2004, New Times asked him whether he had mentioned the fund to Fergis. Rose denied that he talked to Fergis about it or that he knew anything about the dealings of the SCA.
The company linked to Courtesy Chevrolet, which provided vehicles to the MCSO, donated $1,500 to the fund. The check was submitted under the name of Transportation Management Company. The firm is affiliated with Fox Rent A Car, which was paid about $500,000 by the county in 2009.
The SCA's well was now polluted with the ink of prohibited contributions.
As Fox and Black continued work on their election-related mission in 2007, they also anguished over their relationship.
While Fox was on vacation, he and Black exchanged several e-mails. Their subject was that Fox apparently thought Black was upset to learn that Fox might have planned a trip to Fiji without him. And the same apparently romantic, religion-tinged themes from 2006 were echoed.
Black tells his subordinate that, for now, he'll stick with "Larry's religion" but would "definitely follow the church of Joel" if it ever opened.
In a long e-mail by Fox sent on August 4, the sheriff's captain writes that during their many hours alone in Louisiana, "I gave you everything I had. Everything I know about living, attitude, excellence, believing in yourself, trust, loving, friendship . . . life. I laid it all out. Up to that point, I gave you what I thought you might accept. Right or wrong, I don't want to hurt you . . . I don't want to overwhelm you."
He goes on to say, "Do you know why LA was so much fun for you? Because you felt secure. You were secure in what you were doing, and you were secure in our relationship."
Fox referred to when they shared a "hotel room in Los Angeles one stormy night four years ago," and he mentions how Black had shared his "heart."
Fox tells Black, "You do not want love, if that love is not returned. You think it is foolish. You think this because this is what people will say. You think being perceived as foolish is a bad thing. You don't want people to think you are foolish because then you will feel insecure. But I am a fool. I am happily a fool."
The e-mail also manages to squeeze in some work talk: One reason Black's not so secure, Fox writes, is that his new job "does not have very clear duties, so you felt insecure about that and had to ask Dave [probably Hendershott] what you should do."
A few days later, on October 10, Black tells Fox, "Even though we are thousands of miles away, I can hear you talking in my heart and your message is crystal clear. I love you, dear friend, stay safe, and you are in my thoughts . . . always. Talk to you sooner still!!! I am getting excited for you to get back. (Not wanting to see your vacation end), but you know what I mean."
By the summer of 2008, the SCA account totaled more than $111,000. With the November election fast approaching, Black and Fox were ready to put the money to use.
But the two couldn't just walk through the front door of the state Republican Party and make the donation. Besides the ink in the well, it appears that an overt deal was made with party officials about how the SCA money must be used for the anti-Saban ad.
Part of the evidence of the agreement comes from statements by Lisa Allen, the sheriff's spokeswoman, and James Miller, from internal affairs, who both told investigators that as the November 2008 election drew nearer, Black worked on the material that ended up in the ad.
Miller told investigators that it was a "well-known fact that Larry Black spent a large amount of time in a 'video' room on the 19th floor," cutting and pasting video footage that was intended for use in the Saban smear ad.
"Per Miller, SCA was a PAC fund and was the method used to 'fund the hit piece on Saban.' When asked how this was known, Miller stated it was common talk/knowledge around the office," the report states.
A backchannel to the Republican Party was needed, and the SCA found one in Chris Baker, a political consultant who often was at the party's Phoenix headquarters in the summer of 2008. Baker was a friend of Randy Pullen's, then-state GOP chairman.
Black, when he was interviewed by investigators in May 2009, said he and Fox needed to find a legal way to donate the money. Black said he consulted with "some political guys," including Baker and two or three lawyers. He said he spoke with Baker five or six times "during the campaign" and said Baker suggested giving the money to the Republican Party. He said he gave $105,000 in two checks to Baker; he waffled on whether Fox was present when he handed the money to the political consultant.
Baker told a different story to investigators. He said he was contacted about doing free work for the SCA by Republican state Representative Jim Weiers, a former state House Speaker whose son worked for the Sheriff's Office.
"Weiers asked if Chris Baker would be interested in doing some independent expenditure work," the report states. "Baker said he had some time, so he agreed to go meet with them."
Weiers did not return repeated phone calls from New Times.
Baker said he met Fox and Black at a restaurant and chatted about the fund. At a second meeting, on August 21, 2008, Baker picked up an $80,000 check and took it to state GOP headquarters.
Normal procedure would have been to hold on to a check until some information about the donors could be found, Amy Lynn Gordon, then-state GOP finance director, told investigators. This check was listed merely as from the SCA, an organization unknown to GOP officials at the time. Over her objections, Pullen told her to deposit the money in the GOP's state account, she said.
Pullen later told investigators that the check wasn't for much money and that he figured he'd get the individual donors' names at some point.
Actually, the state GOP was hurting for money then, and the check was the biggest contribution the party received during that election cycle.
Sean McCaffery, then-executive director of the party, tells New Times he didn't immediately question the origins of the $80,000 check. Nor did he worry about the lack of information three weeks later, when Baker brought in another SCA check for $25,000.
"You assume that people who are involved in politics at that level know exactly what they're doing," McCaffery says. "I think the state party was a victim [of the SCA] with those checks. Live and learn. As far as I'm concerned, it certainly won't happen again."
McCaffery's excuse cuts both ways. With their long involvement in politics at "that level," you would think he and Pullen would have known what they were doing.
As the report details, McCaffery had talked to Baker about the SCA before Black gave Baker the first check, but he didn't probe to find out the names of the donors.
On August 22, the day after the first check arrived, McCaffery and Pullen registered the independent-expenditure committee Arizonans for Public Safety. They later transferred $78,000 to the committee for the anti-Saban ad.
McCaffery says he faxed to the Sheriff's Office a request for the anti-Saban material. The request went straight to Black, who provided the GOP with the materials himself.
Baker then worked with a Texas company to make the ad, supervising the script-writing process.
Hendershott's desire to "crush" Saban was reflected perfectly in the finished product.
But the most damning proof of illegal earmarking was yet to come.
Randy Pullen watched the airing of the anti-Saban ad with other Republicans at an event at the Phoenix headquarters of U.S. Senator John McCain. From what he told a New Times writer ("Randy Pullen's Smear," January 29, 2009), he was pleased with what he saw: "It was like a nuclear bomb and destroyed any chance Saban had."
Even many Republicans were outraged by the ad. Mike Hellon, Pullen's predecessor as state GOP chairman, asked Pullen the reason the "sleazy ad" had been made. Hellon would later tell investigators that Pullen replied, "Because there were some supporters of Joe Arpaio who gave us some money, and that is what they wanted us to do with it."
Hellon tells New Times he was "dumbfounded" by Pullen's statement and could scarcely believe that Pullen would be "dumb enough to say it and dumb enough to admit it to people."
The state GOP's general counsel, Joe Abate, also was present at the McCain event when the ad aired. Abate said Pullen told him the money had to be used for a specific purpose, though Abate couldn't remember whether Pullen detailed that purpose, the report states.
"Upon leaving the meeting, Joe Abate thought that the party may be in some trouble," investigators wrote.
Bruce Ash, a Republican committeeman also at the McCain event, published a comment on October 8, 2008, on GOP consultant Nathan Sproul's blog stating bluntly that the money for the Saban ad had been earmarked and "would not have been donated had the ad campaign not been run."
Pullen didn't return phone calls from New Times. When investigator Edwards interviewed Pullen for a second time, with an FBI agent in the room, Pullen would only say he didn't "think" he'd made the statement about earmarking. Pressed further, Pullen said, "The probability would be low" that he had made such a statement.
It's unclear whether Pullen is a target of the FBI's investigation, but notes from the report suggest that Baker still is a potential target.
Though Pullen claims he tried to contact Fox for the list of donors' names before the ad ran, there's no evidence he did. The first documented proof that he tried to get hold of Fox is a letter to Fox dated October 2, the day after the ad ran.
A less-expensive ad targeting Andrew Thomas' opponent was aired on October 14. It, too, was pulled after criticism that it was tawdry. The funding for the Thomas ad, however, and $6,000 in SCA funds that paid for an innocuous flyer for county Supervisor Fulton Brock, seem to have been an afterthought. For sure, Hendershott and Arpaio wanted Thomas to win, but the main purpose for the SCA fund was the anti-Saban ad.
Following the complaint about the Saban ad by the Democratic Party, the state GOP returned the $105,000 to Fox. But with the tight-money situation at the GOP, this was going to hurt.
Pullen approached U.S. Senator Jon Kyl and asked him to contact his wealthiest supporters and hold a "get out the vote" fundraiser, Hellon tells New Times. (Hellon related the same story to investigators.) Kyl held a dinner for about a dozen people and raised roughly $85,000 for the state GOP. But Pullen didn't use the money to "get out the vote." Hellon says he used it to help pay the SCA's refund check.
"Kyl's been pissed about it for a long time," Hellon says.
Kyl's office did not return calls for this article.
Black handled the refund from the SCA's end, the report says. Black gave Ellman a check for $25,000 and asked him for help getting the other refund checks to Ellman's buddies, according to statements by both Black and Ellman.
Despite the Kyl fundraiser, the state GOP still was low on money. Pullen reportedly told Baker that the political consultant needed to "make the party whole" again.
Ellman said Black informed him that Baker would soon be calling, and then Baker did call, asking Ellman to donate to the Republican Party. Ellman gave the GOP, via Baker, a check for $25,000. And he assisted Black and Baker with contacting some of the other donors.
Most of the rich donors, plus Gimple's wife, cut big checks to the state GOP within two weeks of their refunds. (There's no limit to how much someone can give a state political party.)
The funny thing is, the new contributions make the originals look more like earmarks — they suggest that the plan, all along, had been to deliver the money to the state Republican Party.
Joel Fox didn't want to give up the secrecy of the SCA operation — or betray the man he loved.
He ended up doing both.
The county fined Fox $315,000 for failing to disclose the SCA donors' names in December 2008. He appealed the decision, leading to a March 2009 hearing before county Administrative Law Judge Thomas Shedden.
While preparing for the hearing, Fox wrote in an e-mail to Black that he was trying "to control if or when you are publicly associated" with the SCA.
Fox attempted to protect Black at the hearing by testifying that he, not Black, owned the SCA's P.O. box and was the person who had access to it. As mentioned, it was Black's P.O. box, and Fox was just a name added to Black's account.
Jeff Messing, the elections lawyer, told investigators that he would have subpoenaed Black to the hearing if he had known the P.O. box was Black's.
Fox told Judge Shedden, under oath, that he was the only person behind the SCA.
When all his legal tricks and appeals were used up by July 2009, Fox coughed up the donors' names — including Black's.
But it was the discovery of the e-mails that brought Black's name to the forefront of the investigation.
State authorities raided Fox's home in April 2009, leading to the first big breaks in the case. Fox lied extensively to investigators during the search, telling them, for example, that he had never heard of Chris Baker. Black's name barely came up during Fox's interview with investigators.
A subsequent review of the computers found in his home, however, proved Black's participation in the SCA scheme was significant, and investigators interviewed Black two weeks later.
Fox told Black in a December 2008 e-mail that he was "smart enough to use a personal computer to send e-mails . . . so there is no record." But the e-mails weren't deleted from his MCSO-registered home computer or from Cox servers.
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On March 30, the same day that New Times published a blog post about the love letters between Fox and Black ("Love, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Style," March 30), Fox filed a federal lawsuit against former AG Goddard and Cox. The release of the e-mails "has caused serious damage to Plaintiff Joel Fox and his family," wrote Fox, who's representing himself.
Besides the evidence of election crimes and the relationship between Fox and Black, the review of Fox's hard drive also turned up links to teen porn sites.
Fox has a lot explaining to do.
So do Black, Hendershott, and the rest of the sheriff's men involved in the SCA scandal.