David Hendershott Used Position for Financial Gain, Lied to Sheriff Arpaio and Mismanaged Anti-Corruption Unit, Report Concludes


From what we've seen so far today, the investigative report on allegations against Dave Hendershott, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's former chief deputy, can be summed up with a cliche:

Hendershott lied, cheated, and stole.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office released part of the long-awaited report today, and we just got done examining it in the lobby of Arpaio's downtown Phoenix headquarters.

We were disappointed to see more than half of the about 200 released pages blacked out entirely. Possibly, those pages referred to former deputy chief Larry Black or Captain Joel Fox, both of whom opted to respond to Arpaio regarding some of the accusations against them. Last September, when another of Arpaio's high-ranking deputies cranked out a 63-page memo blasting Hendershott, Black, and Fox, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu hired a private eye to conduct the internal investigation on behalf of Arpaio.

The part of the report we saw today had nothing to do with one of our favorite subjects, the Sheriff's Command Association campaign-finance scandal. But the partial report did find Hendershott responsible for a lot of bad behavior.


Hendershott lied:

* In 2007, the offices of Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas teamed up to screw over one of their most tireless critics: Us. You can read the outrageous tale of law enforcement turning on the news media, which resulted in a major mea culpa by Thomas, here and here. Hendershott had told Arpaio that lawyer Dennis Wilenchik had ordered the arrests of New Times execs Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, according to witnesses including Arpaio's spokeswoman, Lisa Allen. Hendershott later signed a sworn affidavit that he'd ordered the arrests personally.

Hendershott cheated:

* In 2000, the chief deputy ordered two commanders to attend a campaign of one of Arpaio's opponents, Jerry Robertson, and secretly videotape the people there. Although the main report didn't sustain this finding, a supplemental report reviewed by New Times states that it appears Hendershott's actions violated a state law prohibiting county employees from using subordinates for political activites.

* In 2004, Hendershott asked deputies Steve Werner and Scott Freeman to attend a retirement party and campaign event for Arpaio's political opponent, Dan Saban, and report back what they heard. At the party, a cop buddy of Saban's announced that Saban had once exposed his penis to a young boy. The buddy later said the incident never happened and that he was joking, but the rumor was passed to Arpaio's office, which opened a criminal investigation into the incident.

Reportedly, Hendershott must have heard about the Saban story -- details of which turned up in the 2008 smear ad against Saban that was funded by the shady SCA account -- from a source other than Werner or Freeman. That's because Werner and Freeman claim that they had decided after the party not to rat out Saban.

Freeman, now a deputy chief, told investigators that after the party, he and Werner decided to swear a "blood oath" not to tell the ribald story about Saban they'd overheard. They were worried it would cause a stink for the department, as had the trumped-up investigation into the allegation that Saban had raped his adoptive mother.

When they reported back to Hendershott that they had nothing to tell him about Saban, Hendershott grew furious, according to Jerry Sheridan, the current acting chief deputy. Sheridan told investigators how recalled Hendershott telling him, "Fuck them" -- meaning Werner and Freeman.

The pair were not going to be among the "trusted, loyal guys," Sheridan said Hendershott told him, and the pair would not "get the windfall of that either."

Got that? Loyal, trusted guys reap a "windfall." A taxpayer-funded one, for sure.

Werner called Hendershott after the Saban party and told him that Arpaio was so "great," that "we don't need to do this black-bag bullshit," according to Sheridan.

"Hendershott proceeded to scream vulgarities at Werner," the report states.

The two deputies were "ostracized" and "black-balled" for about three months.

 * In 1997, Hendershott inflated statistics for a program called "Butt Out," which targeted store clerks who sold cigarettes to minors. Before a news conference about the program, Hendershott "at least tripled" the numbers of reported citations.

 Hendershott stole:

 * In one of the worst rips on Hendershott, Babeu's investigator found that Hendy ripped off $18,000 in posse funds and used them to sponsor a competitive baseball team on which his son played, as well as a week-long trip in Alaska for him and his wife.

"Hendershott's actions were clearly inappropriate," the report states. The misuse of funds "led to personal gain arising from his position at MCSO."

 Hendershott mismanaged:

 * Investigators could find no direct evidence that Hendershott told members of the Maricopa Anti-Corruption Enforcement team would go after anyone strictly for political purposes. However, the unit was run by Hendershott "contrary to sound law enforcement practices and utilization of resources."

Disturbingly, investigators found that Hendershott provided all of the leads and authorized all of the MACE investigations. He also bypassed supervisors on occasion and worked directly with detectives on the cases, which was highly unusual for a guy in his position. That sounds to us like good circumstantial evidence of political shenanigans, given that shenanigans are exactly what happened in the cases of three county supervisors, Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe, and other county employees.

Evidence could not be found to sustain several of the allegations in the report, such as the one by Frank Munnell that Hendershott had retaliated against him for cooperating with federal investigators. Hendershott had only considered transferring Munnell because of that cooperation but hadn't actually committed retaliation, the report found.

In another non-sustained finding, no evidence could be found that Hendershott had broken county policies regarding nepotism. However, the report made it clear that about a dozen of Hendershott's friends and relatives have been hired over the years, which just doesn't look good.

We're looking forward to the rest of the report, and plan to write in more detail about the findings.


Forget to mention one other thing: Hendershott qualifies for another $140,000 in annual pension pay, bringing his total pension income to $203,000, says a report by Channel 5 (KPHO-TV) reporter Lisa Leigh Kelly. That ought to keep him from having to move from his luxury home, unless he finds a nicer one.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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.
Contact: Ray Stern