Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's Investigating Federal Judge G. Murray Snow, DOJ, Sources Say, and Using a Seattle Scammer To Do It

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My sources -- one of whom is a former detective with the MCSO's Special Investigations Division and is well-acquainted with SID and those in it -- say Anglin and Mackiewicz were involved in an odd investigation dating back to October 2013.

Moreover, they say, the deputies have used as a confidential informant a notorious scammer in the Seattle area.

What have they been investigating? According to my sources, Mackiewicz, Anglin, and the informant are focused on U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow, the Justice Department, and a bizarre conspiracy theory that the DOJ and Snow have conspired to somehow "get" Joe Arpaio.

The person who purportedly convinced Arapio of this paranoid fantasy, the sources say, is computer fraudster Dennis L. Montgomery, the subject of a 2010 Playboy exposé titled "The Man Who Conned the Pentagon."

In that article, investigative reporter Aram Roston detailed how, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Montgomery snookered the CIA, the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Air Force into believing he had software that could decode secret messages to terrorists, supposedly embedded in broadcasts of the Al Jazeera Media Network.

As crazy as this now sounds, Roston, using unsealed court documents, reported that eTreppid Technologies, the Nevada software company Montgomery co-owned, scored multimillion-dollar contracts for computer software touted by Montgomery.

In fact, Roston wrote, the United States went to Code Orange, the DHS' second-highest terror alert, in 2003 based on data supplied to the CIA by Montgomery.

International flights were delayed, sometimes canceled, because of Montgomery's work. Based on Montgomery's "intelligence gathering," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told reporters at the time about the threat of "near-term attacks" that could "rival or exceed" those of 9/11.

"Montgomery calls the work he was doing noise filtering," Roston wrote. "He was churning out reams of data he called output. It consisted of latitudes and longitudes and flight numbers."

This data was given to then-CIA Director George Tenet, according to Roston, and "eventually ended up in the White House."

There was one big problem, Roston reported: "The communications Montgomery said he was decrypting apparently didn't exist."

Roston wrote that Montgomery's eTreppid colleagues questioned his computer skills. Company employees also claimed that Montgomery had faked demonstrations of weapons-recognition software for representatives of the U.S. military.

With the help of a "branch of the French intelligence services," the CIA finally got wise to Montgomery, realizing that there were no secret messages to bad guys in the Al Jazeera broadcasts.

Montgomery left eTreppid, wrote Roston, and went on to work for software companies backed by a wealthy heiress; to accuse Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons of taking a bribe (Gibbons later was cleared of wrongdoing); to lose big at a Rancho Mirage, California casino ($422,000 in one day); and to declare bankruptcy.

Now, Montgomery lives in Yarrow Point, Washington, a short drive from downtown Seattle. My sources report that MCSO detectives Anglin and Mackiewicz have spent a lot of time this year in Seattle with Montgomery, who, the sources say, has convinced the sheriff that he has information suggesting an anti-Arpaio conspiracy between Judge Snow and the DOJ.

These sources say there is no report number assigned to the case, that Arpaio himself is running it, and that the investigation has been financed with funds for confidential informants, RICO funds.

Montgomery has been assigned a "confidential informant number" or "control number," the identity of which is known only to Arpaio, a few MCSO brass, and those in Special Investigations, according to my sources, who claim Montgomery has been paid about $100,000 to date by the MCSO.

The situation gives Arpaio and the MCSO a degree of deniability because the department is allowed to keep the identities of confidential informants secret in most instances. Though there should be MCSO paperwork associated with such payments, it would show a payment to a control number, not a name.

The MCSO's official policy on "informant management" states that control numbers must be maintained in a confidential-informant log "monitored by the [Special Investigations Division] commander or his designee."

It further states that all informant files be kept in a "secured area within the SID." The policy notes that the MCSO "will protect these sources through all available and reasonable legal means."

Such "informant files" are retained as "permanent records" of SID, "unless the division commander determines that the records may be purged."

My sources say Mackiewicz has received, to date, $50,000 in overtime pay and Zullo has gotten about $5,000 in payments.

Zullo's role is unclear, though he currently is involved in the investigation, according to these sources, as well as the perpetual birther probe.

Additionally, they say the MCSO made about a $50,000 purchase of computer equipment for Montgomery sometime this year from a store in Washington state.

According to the MCSO's policy regarding "Undercover and Investigative Funds Accountability," an expenditure of up to $6,000 for undercover and investigative work can be approved by a division commander.

Anything over $6,000 must be approved by a bureau commander.

As for funds specifically paid to confidential informants, the reins are even tighter.

Payments to a CI of more than $300 must be approved by a division commander "prior to the expenditure of the funds," according to the MCSO's informant-management policy. The amount of money involved in detectives Anglin and Mackeiwicz's Seattle quest has raised red flags with MCSO accountants, I've been told.

These same MCSO accountants reportedly have expressed concern internally about the procurement of the computer equipment, excessive CI payments, the amount of overtime involved, and the money spent on airfare and stays in Seattle.

In several broadly worded public-records requests sent to the MCSO in February, I asked for any and all e-mails traded among the players involved, as well as any and all records regarding MCSO employees' trips to Seattle, payments of informant funds to Dennis Montgomery, and Mackiewicz's overtime requests.

In each case, I was advised by MCSO spokesman Jones that "this is an ongoing investigation . . . no records can be released at this time."

In March, I called Zullo at his home phone number. I asked him about the work he was said to be doing with Montgomery.

He claimed not to know what I was talking about. When I pressed him, he said all such inquiries should go through the MCSO.

"I have no comment to make, especially to the New Times," he told me before hanging up.

The opportunity to question Arpaio about the Montgomery caper came as he munched on cheese at a recent fundraiser for embattled Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne at the University Club in Phoenix.

I asked the sheriff about Montgomery and the work that my sources tell me he has done for the MCSO.

At first, he played dumb, asking if I meant County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

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