Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's Deputy Charley Armendariz Implicated MCSO "Command Staff," Says Activist Lydia Guzman

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See also: Deputy's Death Opens the Door Onto a World of Corruption in Sheriff Joe's MCSO

He also claimed he was getting harassed because of his sexual preference. Armendariz was openly gay, and had even marched in a local gay pride parade.

Armendariz related that one fellow deputy told him to "not act so gay."

When Armendariz complained to a supervisor, the supervisor shrugged, saying, "Well, what did you expect?"

Guzman says Armendariz was visibly shaken when she met him.

"He was scared," explains Guzman. "His lip was shaking, his eye was twitching because he was scared. At some point, he started crying, while I'm talking to him. He said, `I need to talk with someone, who do I talk to?'"

It was no secret that Guzman had contacts with the U.S. Department of Justice and with the FBI. She had mentioned this to the local media several times and had been deposed about her DOJ contacts by Arpaio's lawyers. That's why Armendariz reached out to her, says Guzman.

Guzman contacted the DOJ and the FBI to tell them about Armendariz. The FBI referred her to the DOJ.

DOJ staff told her that they could not meet with Armendariz. It was a conflict because he was employed by the MCSO, and was represented by MCSO's lawyers, as he was both a witness in Melendres and in a separate DOJ lawsuit having to do with racial profiling and abuse of power.

"I was told that once he had another job, then the DOJ could speak with him," she says.

In August 2013, a couple of months after federal Judge G. Murray Snow found Arpaio and his office guilty of racial profiling in Melendres, Guzman says Armendariz contacted her again via text, through what she says was an anonymous Google number.

Guzman shared screenshots of the text messages with me. In one, Armendariz told her that "people are leaving" the MCSO because of "the cover-ups and how they are treated."

He related that the MCSO's Human Smuggling Unit was still active and had not been disbanded, as some thought.

"They are still a unit and working," he wrote. "It's business as usual."

(Note: The MCSO recently confirmed to me that the HSU still exists, and is part of the Special Investigations Division. I was also told it will be renamed soon, but the MCSO would not say what the new name will be.)

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