Joe Arpaio's Fave Investigator Faces Allegations of Special Treatment

MCSO Detective Brian Mackiewicz occupies a unique position within Sheriff Joe Arpaio's organization.

Not only is he a favorite of both Arpaio and Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, his assignments investigating "threats" against the sheriff, as well as his involvement in various special MCSO missions, have allowed him to travel to Hawaii, Canada, Washington, D.C., Washington state, and various other locales.  

As a result, the detective has had direct access to Arpaio. He also is friends with Sheridan and Sheridan's wife, a realtor, who has participated in several land deals with the deputy.

Additionally, Mackiewicz has survived several internal investigations over the years, and sources allege that this too is a result of his special relationships with those in the MCSO's upper echelon.

An 18-year veteran of the MCSO, Mackiewicz is at the center of the so-called "Seattle investigation," where he, Cold Case Posse Commander Mike Zullo, and Sergeant Travis Anglin spent more than a year, on and off, babysitting Arpaio's paid confidential informant, Dennis Montgomery.

Montgomery, a Seattle-based computer consultant and former CIA subcontractor, produced flowcharts and timelines to Arpaio, purporting to depict a vast, anti-Joe conspiracy that included, among others, the U.S. Department of Justice, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and federal Judge G. Murray Snow, who's overseeing the civil rights case Melendres v. Arpaio

Zullo and Mackiewicz had teamed up before. Mackiewicz infamously accompanied Zullo to Hawaii in 2012 on an Arpaio-sanctioned mission to invalidate President Obama's birth certificate. And he and Zullo were on the ground floor of the Seattle investigation together during a meeting in October 2013, when Arpaio said he first heard about Montgomery.

Arpaio ordered Mackiewicz and Zullo to Seattle on a far-fetched probe that was either about Snow's involvement in an anti-Arpaio conspiracy or about the CIA's illegally harvesting bank records from U.S. citizens, or both, depending on whom you believe. 
Several witnesses in Arpaio's contempt trial have undermined Arpaio's defense that the Seattle probe had nothing to do with retaliating against a federal judge for finding Arpaio and his organization guilty of racial profiling. 

Mackiewcz already has been deposed by the plaintiffs and is expected to testify next week when the contempt trial resumes.

Currently, he is on a leave of absence from the MCSO, as he is the subject of criminal and administrative investigations by the Arizona Attorney General's Office and the Sheriff's Office. 

Allegations against him involve the spiking of overtime during his extended stays in Seattle and Montgomery's allegedly building a computer for him. In interviews with New Times, Mackiewicz has denied the first allegation and has only said about that the second that it "had no bearing on anything."

Whatever the truth of the allegations, Mackiewicz's ties to Sheridan and Arpaio are strong, and well known among Mackiewicz's colleagues.

During his testimony, former Executive Chief Brian Sands noted that technically, both Zullo as a volunteer posse member and Mackiewicz as an MCSO detective, were to report to a commander and a sergeant, respectively. Instead, they operated outside of the command structure.

"From my observations," said Sands of the pair, "they worked for the sheriff."

On the stand during day nine of the contempt trial, Arpaio confirmed that both Zullo and Mackiewicz reported directly to him on a regular basis about the status of the Seattle investigation.

 Arpaio seemed to have genuine affection for Mackiewicz because of the work the detective had done on Arpaio's threats unit.

Plaintiffs' attorney Stanley Young asked Arpaio if he had confidence in Mackiewicz because of his role in protecting the sheriff.

"Yes," Arpaio replied. "I think he probably was very important to me personally, and [to] my wife, because we arrested many people accusing to kill me, and...they were convicted. So I had to respect his tenacity to get these people brought to justice."
Asked by the court if he ever had social interaction with Mackiewicz, Chief Deputy Sheridan said he had. 

"Consider yourself to be a friend?" Judge Snow inquired at one point of Sheridan.

"I consider myself to be an acquaintance, yes," Sheridan said.

The chief deputy also admitted to a business relationship of sorts with his underling, specifically that his realtor wife "had sold [Mackiewicz] a couple of houses" and had received a commission.

As New Times previously reported, Mackiewicz owns five properties in Phoenix and Peoria, according to the county assessor's website, with a total cash value of about $400,000.

Sheridan's wife, Stacie, is listed as the realtor on all but one. 

Questioned by the plaintiffs on the deals, Sheridan confirmed that earlier this year, his wife still acted as real estate agent for Mackiewicz, and had some dealings with Mackiewicz's current girlfriend, who is also in the real estate business.

ACLU attorney Cecillia Wang asked Sheridan if his wife "stood to make a $100,000 commission on two real estate transactions on behalf of Brian Mackiewicz's girlfriend."

Sheridan said yes. 

Wang also got Sheridan to admit that he had been involved in Arpaio's decision to assign Mackiewicz to the Seattle operation, for which Sheridan signed off on expenses.

Stacie Sheridan declined to comment when contacted by New Times for this article. Mackiewicz also declined to comment. 

But he did discuss his land dealings in previous interviews with New Times.

"I've been friends with Stacie Sheridan for 18 years of my life," Mackiewicz explained during one conversation, adding, "Am I going to give my money to someone else, or am I going to give it to Stacie because she does a good job?"

Mackiewicz also hotly refuted allegations that he enjoyed a protected status as Sheridan's friend.

"I'm in the spotlight all the time because I do these cases for the sheriff," the detective told New Times. "Realistically, at the end of the day, I'm not getting taken care of at all. I get more scrutiny than any other employee in the sheriff's department."

Still, Mackiewicz's favored status with Arpaio and Sheridan kept coming up during testimony in the ongoing contempt trial.

Sergeant David Tennyson formerly was a detective with the MCSO's Professional Standards Bureau. Initially, he was tasked with investigating allegations that Mackiewicz padded his overtime while on the Seattle operation.

Tennyson admitted that he was a friend of Mackiewicz's and that he knew that Mackiewicz and Sheridan were pals. He said he never was told not to pursue the allegations thoroughly.

Under oath, Tennyson said the allegations against Mackiewicz included allegedly improperly obtaining the text messages of a former girlfriend and having "an inappropriate relationship with a domestic-violence victim," as one of the plaintiff's attorneys characterized it.

But the main issue involved the payroll-padding allegations. Tennyson conceded that the MCSO's criminal investigation had been "shelved" because, in his opinion, it did not rise to the level of criminality.

"Misuse of overtime can be a crime,"Tennyson said. "However, in order to prove that, we would need more in the way of evidence."

Tennyson said he never interviewed Mackiewicz and never went through his overtime entries with him, saying it would have been "pointless" without knowing the detective's "parameters."  That is, what he was allowed to do while on assignment in Seattle.

"Detectives work odd hours," Tennyson testified. "They're allowed to drink on the job, in some cases. They don't necessarily have to be behind a desk or at a certain facility to get paid. They can be en route to calls. They can be entertaining, you know, investigative leads, witnesses. I mean, there's several different parameters that — that encompasses how you get paid."

Tennyson said he attempted to interview Arpaio about the "parameters" of Mackiewicz's employment, but he was denied. .

During her deposition, Tennyson's boss, Lieutenant Kim Seagraves, said she didn't think Mackiewicz was "protected."

But she admitted that his relationship to Sheridan could have influenced some people.

"Mackiewicz was the type of person [who] would brag about who he's friends with," she said. "And he was a name dropper. And so you can have someone who would feel intimidated, perhaps, if they might have wanted to bring something forward [about him]."

Mackiewicz's upcoming testimony — though expected to support Sheridan and Arpaio's version of events regarding the Seattle operation — is eagerly awaited.
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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons