Maricopa County Craziness

Dave Hendershott, Joe Arpaio's Fired Chief Deputy, Struggles to Explain Bad Conspiracy Theory During Andrew Thomas Disbarment Hearings; Sheriff May Take Stand Wednesday

Dave Hendershott, Sheriff Arpaio's disgraced former chief deputy, struggled to explain his grand conspiracy theories in the Andrew Thomas disciplinary proceedings today.

​Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's ousted chief deputy, Dave Hendershott, wearing a bold red tie and suit jacket, testified today for five to six hours in the Andrew Thomas disciplinary proceedings. Catch it here.

Mumbling at times after he was asked to wear a headset (he forgot to bring his hearing aids to the hearing -- seriously), Hendershott covers the waterfront -- from the "bug sweep" case to the supposed grand conspiracy of county officials and lawyers.

He confirms that Arpaio ordered the 2009 arrest of County Supervisor Don Stapley. Mostly, he tries to explain why he thought targeted county officials had committed a criminal conspiracy, which was the subject an over-arching racketeering lawsuit launched by Arpaio and Thomas.

Tries -- and fails

This assemblage of loose facts -- some even mildly interesting as what Hendershott calls "clues" -- simply don't hold together as descriptions of actual crimes. Much of this boils down to Hendershott's misguided boat of hunches -- and how Arpaio, Thomas, and Aubuchon jumped aboard.

Especially telling was when independent Bar Counsel James Sudler went through the probable-cause statement attached to the now-discredited criminal complaint against retired Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe. Sudler emphasizes that a large part of the statement was lifted from a formal complaint with the Judicial Conduct Commission that Hendershott  previously had filed against Donahoe -- in which Hendershott never accused Donahoe of any crime.

Asked to point out where in the probable-cause statement he thinks that crimes occurred, Hendershott wades into the muck, muttering that it was the "totality" of actions by the judge that led him to think a crime occurred.

"When you add everything up and total everything up, it could be" a crime, he said.

Asked about the charge of bribery against Donahoe, Hendershott explained it no better today than Andrew Thomas did two years ago. Like Thomas at a news conference in 2009, Hendershott mutters how the definition of bribery is very broad.

Hendershott's testimony makes it clear that the evidence on which the judge was charged was less than paper-thin, and mainly revolved around supposed conflicts of interest and rulings he made.

Before Donahoe was charged, Hendershott, Arpaio, and Thomas discussed the fact that Donahoe had an important hearing scheduled. The hearing was on whether Thomas could hire special prosecutors to look into allegations against county officials -- including Donahoe -- or whether he had a conflict of interest. Believing that it was Donahoe who had the conflict of interest, the decision was made to charge Donahoe.

None of this should help Thomas -- who seems to have used the criminal charge to "influence" a judge's decision.

Hendershott's description of conversations about Stapley with retired Superior Court Judge Barbara Mundell's just don't ring true in light of Mundell's October 3 testimony.

Hendershott also said he couldn't recall telling anyone that he had a plan to destroy the Board of Supervisors. Andy Kunasek testified September 26 that Deputy County Attorney Tom Liddy tipped him that Hendershott had told him as much.

It was another bad day for Thomas and his former deputy, Lisa Aubuchon.

Oh, and many of you have been waiting for this:

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is scheduled to testify on Wednesday in the disciplinary hearing.

Well, Jennifer Liewer, spokeswoman for the state Supreme Court, can't be certain Arpaio will testify because of the unpredictable length of other witnesses' testimony, but she said it "looks like" that'll be the case.

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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.