Feathered Bastard

Federal Witnesses Against Joe Arpaio Still Fear MCSO; U.S. Attorney's Office Suggested They Go Public (w/Special Notes)

I spoke briefly today with both County Manager David Smith and County Budget Director Sandi Wilson, who yesterday confirmed to Channel 5's Morgan Loew that they had both been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury this Wednesday, January 13.

Both said they spoke to deputy U.S. Attorneys at the U.S. Attorney's Phoenix office in separate meetings yesterday. They stated that they did not speak with the new U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke directly, and that the attorneys present were close-lipped about the grand jury itself, which they were told would include about 20 jurors.

They were not told how long the grand jury had been impaneled, or if anyone else had been subpoenaed. However, they were told that they were free to talk about the fact they'd been subpoenaed, which they took as a "hint."

It was a hint they quickly acted on, reaching out to the local press, including Channel 5. They said they meant to telegraph the news that they were now federal witnesses to the MCSO, but said they were given no specific "advice" by the U.S. Attorney's office on what to do should Arpaio's goons attempt to raid their homes or even arrest them.

Both said they felt that they were not out of harm's way, and Wilson suggested Arpaio might be more likely to do something now. Smith conceded this was a possibility, noting that the MCSO "does not play by the rules."

Still, if the MCSO were to take up the dare, and do anything to harass or intimidate Wilson and Smith now that they are federal witnesses, the MCSO would essentially be making the feds' case for them. 

Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias told Channel 5 in October that Arpaio and his Soviet-style apparatchiks may have broken two federal laws: 18 U.S.C. 241 and 242. The first is conspiring to violate someone's Constitutional rights. The second is acting under the color of law to do so. Further MCSO retaliation against Wilson or Smith would add to the already considerable evidence against Joe & Co. 

And since Wilson and Smith could be considered victims of an out-of-control MCSO transgressing the above laws, they would hypothetically have a right to the protection of the U.S. Attorney under federal victim/witness statutes. 

Unlike other county employees, neither Wilson nor Smith has been approached by the MCSO at their homes, but both have had to retain legal counsel at their own expense as Arpaio, his Chief Deputy David Hendershott, and County Attorney Andrew Thomas have attempted to criminalize county business.

Both county officials have been under investigation of the MCSO since butting heads with the department last year over budget cuts. Back in March, the tension between Hendershott and the MCSO on one side and the county on the other was epitomized by a memo Hendershott wrote to Sheriff Arpaio, where Hendershott kvetched that Smith had called him "childish" and accused the rotund Chief Deputy of having a Jekyll-Hyde persona.

Both of which happen to be true, and then some. If Smith stated these things, his observations were charitable, indeed.

Wilson, Smith and other county employees have been interviewed by the FBI, but Wilson and Smith said Thursday's meetings were their first with the U.S. Attorney's office.

Wilson described several incidents where she would be "reminded" by MCSO employees that she was under investigation by the sheriff's office. She explained that she's had to warn her children to be wary of MCSO deputies should they appear on her doorstep. Her adopted son, who is Guatemalan, has been especially traumatized. Once, after watching coverage of the MCSO's racial profiling on the TV news, he asked his mother, "What's wrong with being Mexican?"

Neither Smith, nor Wilson wished to divulge the names of the deputy U.S. Attorneys they met with. However, Cari Gerchick, Communications Director for the County, later e-mailed me a copy of Wilson's subpoena, which lists the name of Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Lodge. 

Long time Arpaio-stooge Jack MacIntyre recently told ABC15's Josh Bernstein that one MCSO employee that he knew of had been questioned by the grand jury, but MacIntyre declined to say who this was or what the person was asked about. This is an intriguing tidbit, in spite of MacIntyre's legendary penchant for guile. If true, it means that the grand jury has been active prior to subpoenaing Wilson and Smith and may be well on its way to some sort of indictment.

NOTE: The troll calling himself Chuck U. Farley pulled the most juvenile of dirty tricks in a comment to this blog, dragging regular poster Dennis Gilman's name through the sewer by finding someone out there with a similar name who is guilty of a heinous act and linking to him. This is completely absurd because neither the name, nor the birth date, nor the photo match the Phoenix Gilman.

Craven slugs like Chuck U. Farley -- afraid to even use his own birth name -- apparently think that this will convince folks that Gilman is guilty of the same crime as the guy by the same first and last name in Florida.

It doesn't. Rather it reveals Chuck as a pusillanimous, nativist twit, and not the first from that camp, I might add. BTW, you can see an actual photo of Dennis Gilman, here. Refer to Gilman's post below for a photo of the other guy.

I've left Gilman's post up, but have deleted Chuck's because his comment violates this Web site's terms of use.

I sympathize with Gilman because I've been the subject of similar shenanigans in the past, save that the attack on me was ironically orchestrated from the far left -- by 9/11 conspiracy theorists to be precise. Thing is, some of those conspiracy theorists instantly recognized how bad this looked for their side of the argument and wrote blog posts denouncing the effort. Sadly, I do not think you will fine one nativist with an ounce of such honor.

AND ON ANOTHER NOTE: Regarding wherewasi's question below on the Hendershott deposition, alas Hendy's Captain Queeg moment will have to wait. Hendy's depo has been put off till January 19th, according to the latest Melendres vs. Arpaio filing, which you can read, here. So we'll all have to wait to find out what that goiter or whatever is on Hendy's neck. Actually, I'm pretty sure it's only fatback, but if the plaintiffs' attorney David Bodney wanst to ask, Hendy will be under oath...Heh.

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

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