Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio fired two of his most trusted aides today, Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott and Deputy Chief Larry Black, both of whom have been accused of crimes and misconduct.
Arpaio told the Arizona Republic in 2009 that no one could make him drive Hendershott from office, but the 1,022-page investigative report into allegations by another deputy chief, Frank Munnell, apparently made him change his mind.
Besides that report, Hendershott and Black figured prominently in another investigative report of the SCA case, released last month by the state Attorney General's office that concerns alleged campaign crimes. New Times has covered the disturbing findings in the latter report over the last several weeks, and most recently in last week's cover story, Love Connection. The headline referred to letters sent between Black and Captain Joel Fox, in which the men expressed "love" for each other.
The portly chief deputy is implicated in a raft of other crimes and policy violations. The AG Office's SCA report alludes to evidence uncovered that Hendershott asked a cell-phone representative to destroy evidence of potential campaign crimes, and asked a Verizon rep to "write a false document that indicated no bad credit with Verizon in order to facilitate the financing for his home."
Hendershott's also has been recently accused of trading favors for a wealthy friend of Arpaio's, Steve Ellman, who was a big contributor to the secret slush fund Black and Fox called the SCA account. Yet another AG's office report released this week quotes a former deputy who claims Hendershott ripped off $10,000 in county funds.
The state investigations, started under former state AG Terry Goddard, didn't result in indictments, but the cases remain alive after they were deferred to the U.S. Attorney's Office by current AG Tom Horne.
The termination of Hendershott ends his long, controversial, and financially prosperous career at the Sheriff's Office. After starting with the agency in 1978, Hendershott became a favorite of Arpaio's following the sheriff's election in 1992. From 1996 to 1999, Hendershott's salary doubled, from about $60,000 to $120,000. In 1999, Arpaio allowed Hendershott to quit, begin collecting a pension of $51,000 annually, then get rehired to his same position at the same $120,000 salary. The double-dip caused a firestorm back then, but such things have since become the norm.
Four years ago, Larry Black took a $386,000 one-time pension payment, retired, and was rehired as one of Arpaio's top aides. Deputies interviewed by the AG's office reported that Hendershott and Black made up Arpaio's "inner, inner circle."
As Arpaio's right-hand man, Hendershott was behind some of the office's most diabolical stunts over the years, including the targeting of political enemies with half-baked criminal investigations. He claimed to have ordered the arrests of New Times executives Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin in a blatant attack on the newspaper, which has dogged him and the sheriff for years.
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Hendershott worked with Arpaio to fight alleged and poorly evidenced "corruption" among county officials he didn't like, all the while -- according to the SCA report -- scheming with Black to intentionally commit corruption of his own by violating campaign laws.
A poor money manager, Hendershott seems to have squandered his hefty salary; he lost his half-million-dollar home last year in a foreclosure proceeding.
Now Hendershott's jobless, apparently needs money, and possibly soon will be indicted.
Time will tell whether Joe's washing his hands of Hendy will cause him to rat out any provable crimes by his old boss to the feds.