Sheriff Joe Arpaio's favorite deputy, Brian Mackiewicz, has returned to work, dogged by allegations of spiking his overtime and, according to sources, sleeping with a crime victim during an MCSO investigation.
Formerly assigned to Arpaio's threat management unit, the detective was on paid administrative leave for several months last year following the revelation that he was the subject of a criminal probe for alleged payroll violations.
That criminal investigation first was handled by the MCSO, then conflicted out to the Arizona Attorney General's Office. Both the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the MCSO have confirmed to New Times that the DPS now is working the case. So far, the AG's Office has declined to comment on the matter.
Mackiewicz was back at the MCSO in January after getting disciplined with an 80-hour suspension. Sources tell New Times that the suspension resulted from an internal affairs inquiry into allegations that Mackiewicz had sexual relations with a female crime victim while investigating allegations against the woman's husband.
MCSO spokesman Joaquin Enriquez did not confirm the reason for the suspension, but he defended Mackiewicz's return to work in an e-mail to New Times.
"Brian Mackiewicz was suspended for 80 hours for the investigation he was on leave for," Enriquez writes. "The current pending investigation [regarding overtime spiking] is being handled by DPS and is a completely separate matter. Furthermore [Mackiewicz] has not been charged or arrested in the DPS investigation that would rise to the level of placing him on administrative leave at this time."
An 80-hour suspension is one of the most serious disciplines that can be meted out by the MCSO to its employees, short of dismissal. Sources tell New Times that Mackiewicz defied a superior's direct order not to have sex with the victim in the case.
New Times is awaiting the MCSO's internal affairs reports on the matter, which the office claims are under review by a lieutenant before release.
Contacted by phone, Mackiewicz refused to make any comment when asked what the 80-hour suspension was for:
"I'm not going to say anything about anything."
That's a change for the detective. Previously, Mackiewicz, set to retire from the MCSO this year, discussed various allegations against him with New Times, denying he had padded his overtime.
"I would never in a million years do anything illegal, take money from taxpayers," he stated at the time.
The overtime-padding allegations against Mackiewicz were discussed during Arpaio's contempt trial last year before federal Judge G. Murray Snow, the jurist who found the MCSO guilty of racial profiling in 2013 and is presiding over the contempt case against Arpaio and four of his current and former underlings.
Mackiewicz was Arpaio's lead investigator in the MCSO's now-notorious "Seattle investigation," an attempt to flesh out a kooky anti-Arpaio conspiracy theory involving various parties, including Snow.
As a result, the detective spent months in Washington state babysitting the MCSO's confidential informant there, Dennis Montgomery, a Seattle computer consultant, whom the MCSO paid at least $120,000, according to court documents.
During the contempt trial, Arpaio's chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, testified that the Seattle investigation cost the MCSO "around $250,000."
To date, there has been no accounting of the money spent on the Seattle operation. New Times' sources have previously suggested that as much as $1 million was spent on the bizarre effort.
Another allegation is that Montgomery built a computer for Mackiewicz. The detective did not deny this in interviews with New Times.
But he denied allegations of being protected by Arpaio and Arpaio's Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan.
"I get more scrutiny than any other employee in the sheriff's department," Mackiewicz said in one interview.
Yet, during his testimony in the contempt trial, Arpaio acknowledged that Mackiewicz was "very important to me personally," because of the work Mackiewicz did involving alleged threats against the sheriff. Also, Sheridan admitted during the trial that his realtor wife, Stacie Sheridan, had a business relationship with Mackiewicz, having sold Mackiewicz properties, and that she stood to make $100,000 in commissions in transactions with Mackiewicz's current girlfriend.
In one discussion with New Times, Mackiewicz defended this business relationship, saying he and Stacie Sheridan had been friends for 18 years.
"Am I going to give my money to someone else?" he asked rhetorically. "Or am I going to give it to Stacie because she does a good job?"
According to the testimony of Professional Standards Bureau Detective David Tennyson during last year's contempt trial, an interview of Arpaio would have been necessary to complete an investigation of Mackiewicz for allegations of payroll violations.
Tennyson said to the court he was told that Mackiewicz was working exclusively for Arpaio during the Seattle probe. So Arpaio was responsible for defining the parameters of Mackiewicz's work, what he was expected to do on the clock.
But Tennyson never spoke with Arpaio, and so the MCSO's investigation of Mackiewicz's alleged payroll violations fizzled.
Snow has yet to rule in the criminal contempt case against Arpaio, Sheridan, and three other current and former MCSO honchos. Sheridan and Arpaio already have admitted to civil contempt of the court and could face criminal contempt allegations, if Snow refers the matter for prosecution.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.