Dave Hendershott Will Take the 5th in Joel Fox Job Appeal, Says Lawyer; Read Updates on Fox Hearing

Dave Hendershott, the disgraced former chief deputy under Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, will invoke his right against self-incrimination if asked to testify in the job appeal hearing for fired deputy Joel Fox.

Barry Markson, Hendershott's lawyer, told Judge Robert Sparks in the appeal hearing today that his client intended to plead the 5th Amendment on all matters dealing with the SCA campaign-finance scandal.

The Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office still has an open criminal investigation into the SCA matter, it is widely believed. The state Attorney General's Office turned over the SCA criminal investigation to the Feds last year.

The scandal has been the subject of countless news stories since it broke in late 2008.  It involves the raising of more than $100,000 by Hendershott, other Arpaio command staff members, and wealthy posse members, and how the money was allegedly laundered through the Arizona Republican Party for use in a sleazy ad against Arpaio's 2008 opponent, Dan Saban.

The criminal investigation examined potential evidence of fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and possible violation of several campaign-financing laws.

Hendershott, Fox and former Deputy Chief Larry Black were fired by Arpaio last May, in part for their roles in the SCA matter. (SCA, or Sheriff's Command Association, was the name of the secretive group that raised the money.)

Arpaio made his decision to fire the employees only after another deputy chief blew the whistle on that and other ethical problems and potential crimes committed by Arpaio's most trusted aides.

The sheriff has tried to distance himself from the scandal. Yet Arpaio recently said under oath at the Fox hearings that he knew about the fund-raising scheme that illegally benefited his 2008 campaign. He claimed he didn't know much about it, but it makes more sense -- in our humble opinion -- that he knew most everything about it, since the SCA scheme's mastermind was his trusted top aide, Hendershott.

In other Joel Fox news today:

* Chris Baker testified for a third time today, though we only caught part of it.

Baker's the political consultant who was tapped by the Arizona Republican Party to get the money from the SCA. After taking two checks totalling $105,000 from the SCA to the party headquarters, Baker then worked on the committee that produced the Saban smear ad.

Ed Moriarity, Fox's lawyer, asked Baker who he gave the checks to. Baker said it was Sean McCaffery, the party's former executive director.

One of the suspicious acts by the Republican Party officials in this scandal is that the checks were accepted and cashed without any explanation as to who the donors were. One explanation: There was no need to ask, since the Party officials knew who at least some of the donors were, and they knew the donation was improper.

Randy Pullen, then the chair of the state GOP, sent a letter to Fox asking who the "SCA" donors were -- but only after the money had been spent, and the anti-Saban ad aired.

After the ad ran, Pullen told the Arizona Capitol Times that the SCA money funded the ad. He changed his story later, recanting that seeming confession of illegal earmarking of campaign funds.

Under state law, it's illegal to donate to give to one group with the intention that the money will go to help a specific candidate. There are also campaign-finance spending limits that were apparently flouted by the SCA.

Baker, interestingly, is an admitted liar in the SCA case.

Pullen reportedly told criminal investigators with the state Attorney General's Office that he had asked Baker to find out the names of the donors behind the SCA, and that Baker told him he'd called Fox to ask.

Baker later told the investigators that he'd lied about that, and had never tried to contact Fox because "it was not his job to get the names."

The Maricopa County Elections Department pressed the issue in legal actions, demanding that Fox reveal the names or risk a $315,000 fine -- triple the donation amount.

Fox, who had claimed previously that he was the only person coordinating the SCA, admitted in mid-2009 that his bosses, Hendershott and Black, were among the donors. The wealthy donors included local developer Steve Ellman, James Liautaud of Jimmy John's Sandwiches and others.

On the first day of Fox's appeal hearing, Baker also said he lied to the AG's office investigators about never knowing Hendershott. He claims he said this because he was scared of Hendershott.

Baker, was reportedly considered a target in the federal criminal investigation of the SCA matter, records show.

* Speaking of the federal investigation...

As we mentioned yesterday, Moriarity put a motion before Sparks on Tuesday to delay Fox's case until it could be determined whether Fox was under investigation by the feds in connection with the SCA allegations.

Tom Horne, the state Attorney General, turned over the open investigation to the feds sometime after taking office in January of 2011.

Today, the question of the federal investigation remained unanswered. Clarisse McCormick, the lawyer for the County Attorney's Office who's representing the Sheriff's Office in the Fox appeal, said she didn't intend to ask the U.S. Attorney's Office about the investigation, and that it was up to Moriarity to do so, if he thought it was important.

It's unclear whether Moriarity will do that, though it does seem almost certain that if he does, he won't get an answer.

In any case, Judge Sparks said he's not likely to let Fox delay his case indefinitely, even if it's assumed that the feds have an active investigation.

McCormick told Sparks she'd let him know tomorrow if she wanted to ask for a continuance in the case until that question was resolved.

If Sparks tells McCormick to proceed with the case, with or without Fox's input, the appeal case may still require up to 27 full business days to conclude. That means the hearings, which are being held in the Board of Supervisor's Auditorium at 205 West Jefferson, would run at least into June.

What a cluster you-know-what.

* Deputy Chief Brian Sands testified today, rehashing stuff he's already talked about extensively with the state AG's office and in an internal investigation of Arpaio's commanders conducted by Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's office.

Sands said he thought the SCA would be similar to a union when he first heard Hendershott and others discuss it. He says he began paying $100 a month to the SCA without much thought as to where it might be going. He didn't recall any talk of the SCA on the Alaska fishing trip in 2007 that he went on with his buddy Ellman, Hendershott and other SCA donors.

Sands is still employed as one of Arpaio's top commanders.

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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.

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