Yesterday, the Maricopa County Sheriff's officer accused of brazenly swiping -- and photocopying -- a defense lawyer's paperwork reportedly checked himself into jail, as ordered by Judge Gary Donahoe.
Detention Officer Adam Stoddard had refused to apologize for his actions, which ignited a firestorm from defense attorneys across the country. That put him in contempt of Judge Donahoe's order, and that meant jail time.
But as astute readers may recall, everyone in Maricopa County knows there's jail time -- and then there's jail time for Friends of Sheriff Joe.
For at least five years, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has maintained one jail for the hapless pre-trial detainees and Mexicans he boasts about tormenting -- and another one, a posh place New Times dubbed the "Mesa Hilton," for his supporters and celeb friends.
Any guesses which jail might now be housing Officer Stoddard?
As New Times' John Dougherty first reported in 2004, Arpaio uses the more comfortable jail facilities in Mesa for donors, celebs, and other people he's chosen to favor.
The sheriff's Web site describes the facility as "The Maricopa County Southeast Jail facility."
The site notes that it's co-located with the District I headquarters in Mesa. "Although used primarily for booking, the facility can hold approximately 60 sentenced inmates."
Sounds innocuous, right? But, in Dougherty's words:
Rather than serving time in hellish Tent City, Arpaio allows his special guests to serve their sentences in private, climate-controlled cells at the Mesa Hilton. The lucky inmates are also allowed to bring luxury personal items into the jail, including cell phones, musical instruments, computers and takeout meals.
Arpaio knows that the genteel class is willing to do just about anything to avoid having to serve time in the tents, where inmates are packed in like rats to swelter in the summer and get chilled to the bone in the winter.
It's not uncommon for those who serve jail sentences in the Mesa Hilton to do substantial favors for Arpaio.
Country-western singer Glen Campbell served his DUI sentence in the Mesa facility last July. On his last day in jail, Campbell threw a concert at Tent City that got Arpaio's smiling face on news shows across the globe.
Professional-sports mogul Jerry Colangelo's daughter, Mandie, also served her DUI sentence at Mesa, after which dad hosted an extravagant fund raiser for Arpaio that raised $50,000 in one day.
Likewise, Phoenix businessman Joseph Deihl served time in the Mesa jail on a solicitation conviction after his father donated $10,000 to Arpaio's reelection campaign.
Last night, Deputy Stoddard's attorney, Tom Liddy, refused to tell reporters where his client had checked in and was being held. He said it was a safety issue.
But we're a little more skeptical.
Sheriff Arpaio, after all, has clearly indicated his support for Deputy Stoddard's actions. And attorney Liddy told TV reporters last night that Deputy Stoddard is in a private cell -- and will be on the clock for every hour he's incarcerated. (Great use of our tax dollars.)
Sounds like a Mesa Hilton kind of stay to us...
Dougherty's 2004 report also touched on Rob Koebel, the former ABC-15 news reporter who the sheriff used to falsely smear his election challenger, Dan Saban, as a rapist.
As Dougherty reported, the sheriff used Koebel's "safety" as a justification for letting him serve his time in Mesa:
Being Arpaio's pal certainly didn't hurt former Channel 15 television reporter Robert Koebel when he was faced last month with a 12-day jail sentence stemming from an extreme DUI conviction.
... On November 3, Koebel reported to the Estrella Jail to begin serving his 12-day sentence. He says he was greeted by a detention officer who had good news. Koebel would not be forced to endure the indignities at Tent City, but instead would be housed in the comfortable accommodations at the Mesa Hilton.
Koebel says he doesn't believe he was receiving special treatment because of his friendship with Arpaio, the $100 donation to Arpaio's campaign, and his Channel 15 hit piece on Saban. Instead, Koebel says the detention officers simply believed that having him in the tents would pose a liability for the county if he were injured.
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"What I was told . . . was that it would not be a good place for me to be," Koebel says. "I didn't get into the details with them."
One last note: in response to a New Times' public-records request in 2004, the sheriff's office refused to turn over the names of all who were allowed to serve their time at the Mesa Hilton.
How much do you want to bet this situation won't be any different?