Bug Sweeps in County Offices Being Investigated as Possible Corruption; County Workers Visited by Deputies at Homes

We just heard from a reader whose friend -- a Maricopa County employee -- was visited in the last few days by deputies from the Sheriff's Office. The employee told them she didn't want to talk, and they went away, our source says.

The anonymous reader says the county's finance department workers recently received a letter from higher-ups advising them not to speak to the MCSO without an attorney present. When we Googled around to see if anyone else has written about this, we found Arizona Republic reporter Yvonne Wingett's blog post from Friday that confirmed our reader's tale.

Wingett wrote that the deputies have been inquiring about the money spent by the county sweeping for hidden listening devices. At least $10,000 has been spent so far, though as we reported in March, the county was billed $4,600 for a second sweep. Maybe the county's waiting to pay the bill until it finds out if doing so won't get it in any more trouble.

Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott (pictured above) told Wingett that spending taxpayer dollars to find bugs that might be left by a law enforcement agency looking for evidence of corruption would not be appropriate "in a million years."

Damned if he doesn't have a point. Except it's Hendershott, the guy who never uses e-mail, erases questionable witness-interview tapes and claims to have ordered the arrests of New Times founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin -- so something's fishy.

It would be awfully ironic if the most blameworthy act the Sheriff's Office ends up pinning on the county is for something it did out of fear of getting investigated.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.