Stephen Lemons Column

Arpaio Sought Assistance From Former AG Tom Horne's Office in Dealing With Confidential Informant

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When Horne, weighed down by his own corrupt practices — like hiring his mistress as an assistant AG and running his re-election campaign out of his public office — faced erstwhile state gaming director Mark Brnovich in the 2014 GOP primary, Arpaio stuck with his tried-and-true flunky, whom Brnovich trounced, leaving Arpaio prosecutor-less.

Brnovich so far has steered clear of the sheriff, who despite remaining popular with wingnuts, is on the downward path to perdition, as evidenced by recent contempt proceedings before federal Judge G. Murray Snow in the ACLU's big racial profiling case, Melendres v. Arpaio.

See also: -Judge Snow Rips the Lid Off an MCSO Riddled With Corruption

Both Arpaio and his Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan have admitted to civil contempt of Judge Snow's 2011 order, enjoining them and their army of beige-shirted gendarmes from enforcing civil federal immigration law, which the MCSO had been using to round up Hispanics.

However, Sheridan and Arpaio insist that they did not disobey Snow willfully, which is the bar for criminal contempt.

Their actions speak otherwise: like using a private detective, hired through their attorneys, to investigate Judge Snow's wife, supposedly for making an offhand comment at an East Valley restaurant to the effect that the judge despised Joe and wanted to cook his proverbial gander.

Sounds more like something out of the former East Berlin than the East Valley, but such Stasi-like moves are par for the course for Comrade Arpaio.

What about Arpaio's other madcap caper: employing Seattle computer guy Dennis Montgomery, dubbed "The Man Who Conned the Pentagon" by a January 2010 Playboy exposé, to probe a paranoid conspiracy theory involving Snow, the CIA, the U.S. Department of Justice, illegal wiretaps, and the bank records of 50,000 Maricopa County residents?

On the stand, Sheridan and Arpaio copped to spending untold amounts of RICO funds to hire Montgomery as a confidential informant, purchase computer equipment for him, and send three Arpaio lackeys — Cold Case Posse "commander" Mike Zullo and MCSO deputies Brian Mackiewicz and Travis Anglin — to watch over Montgomery at taxpayer expense.

Sources suggest that Montgomery was at one time paid as much as $10,000 per month by the MCSO and that $50,000 in computer equipment was purchased at a store in Seattle, apparently using a county credit card.

Under oath, Sheridan claimed this equipment never was delivered.

The final price tag for the Seattle investigation could be as much as $500,000 to $1 million in public money, sources say.

According to Sheridan, the MCSO believed Montgomery "had information that the CIA hacked into [50,000] individual bank accounts," and that the DOJ "was wiretapping our phones, going into the e-mail accounts of our counsel," and somehow infiltrating the e-mails of judges, including Snow's.

In reality, sources tell me the dubious probe was a way to dog Snow and tie him into some nonexistent plot with the DOJ, to compromise him, dig up dirt on him, just as the investigation into Snow's spouse was meant to do.

"We went to the Arizona Attorney General's Office with [Montgomery's] information," Sheridan averred in his testimony.

This rings true, because when I first looked into the Montgomery affair more than a year ago, I heard that Montgomery actually had gone into the AG's Office under Horne for a meeting and had been given a "free talk" letter by the agency, a free talk being a conversation with a prosecutor, wherein the prosecutor is limited in how that information can be used.

At the time, I had asked for a copy of this letter from Horne's press person, who replied that there were "no records responsive" to my request.

This is flack-ese for, "We have what you want, but you can go pound sand."

The Brnovich administration at least has been more direct in its denial.

Don Conrad, current chief of the AG's criminal division, informed me in a letter that the info related to my request was "confidential."

Brnovich's top flack, Ryan Anderson, confirmed that there was a meeting on December 11, 2013, at the AG's Office, while Horne still was in command..

Present were Montgomery, an assistant AG, and Sheriff's Office representatives.

"We have no idea what the sheriff got out of it," Anderson told me.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons