Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's Joel Fox Demands $5 Million From County and More from Frank Munnell

In a recent column, I discussed how a gang of disgraced law enforcement officers and prosecutors are looking to bleed Maricopa County dry with threats of bloodsucking lawsuits seeking tens of millions in payouts. This, essentially, because they've been called on the carpet by others and now fume from the sidelines.

Guess we can add MCSO Captain Joel Fox to this pack of leeches, which includes ex-County Attorney Andrew Thomas, MCSO Chief Deputy David Hendershott, and Thomas' former henchwoman and erstwhile deputy county attorney Lisa Aubuchon.

Those three want at least $60 million from the county. Fox recently demanded $5 million in a notice of claim to the county, and he wants more moolah from MCSO Deputy Chief Frank Munnell, the guy who wrote the infamous "Munnell memo" alleging all kinds of impropriety by Hendershott, MCSO Director Larry Black, and Fox.

(You can read Fox's notice of claim letter, here.)

Due to these allegations, Black, Fox and Hendershott are on paid leave pending the outcome of an administrative investigation by Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. Sheriff Joe Arpaio farmed the investigation out to Babeu, and we're still awaiting the release of its conclusions.

So, Fox hasn't been fired, yet. Plus he gets to sit in a comfy chair and pull his regular salary: According to the county, Fox's base, yearly pay is $102,897.60. Not bad jack for a "public servant."

To be fair, Munnell makes $113,859.20, according to the county. Everyone in Arpaio's command staff makes bank. For instance, Deputy Chief Brian Sands, whom I sparred with during Arpaio's recent anti-immigrant Pei Wei raid, also pulls in $113,859.20 per annum.

Of course, right now, Fox's colleagues at least have to show up for work. Fox can go fishing, play pinochle, tend to his stamp collection, whatever.

Among other things, the Munnell memo details the controversy surrounding Fox's notorious Sheriff's Command Association, which raised cash from rich guys like Steve Ellman and deducted contributions from command staff paychecks. The money was illegally donated to the Arizona Republican Party, which used the funds to run a sleazy attack ad against Sheriff Joe's 2008 Democratic rival Dan Saban.

As my colleague Ray Stern reported at length in 2009, Fox's pal Larry Black apparently traveled to Alaska for a fishing trip with some of the moneybags in question, and pitched SCA to them.

On one of the checks SCA ultimately received from the high-rollers, someone had written, "Vote for Sheriff Joe Arpaio." On a different one, another had written "PAC Contribution." Campaign contributions? Sure reads that way.

Fox takes umbrage at Munnell's description of the SCA scandal. Thing is, that scandal was hot long before the Munnell memo was leaked. But that's not all Fox kvetches about.

"Mr Munnell included in his scathing sixty-three page memo numerous false allegations of criminal misconduct, malfeasance, and even included challenges to sexuality," he writes.

Indeed, one of the allegations Munnell made about Fox is that Fox went out of his way to protect an MCSO deputy from investigation. Munnell alleges that Fox and the deputy, whom Munnell described as being "openly gay," had some sort of inappropriate relationship. Munnell quotes e-mails between the two, which he contends proves his point.

Fox states that Munnell's memo resulted in him being placed on administrative leave, which in turn caused "the elimination of off-duty jobs which resulted in an immediate loss of income."

However, in November, private investigators working on behalf of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office conducted surveillance on both Fox and Black at Phoenix International Raceway. Were they doing security work for PIR?

Either way, with all of his free time, you'd reckon Fox could make beaucoup bucks moonlighting. That is, when he's not out fishing with rich folks. (See note below.)

Citizens of this county should be incensed by Fox's brazen grab for loot, as well as similar actions by Hendershott, Aubuchon and Thomas. First this cabal helps create a situation that requires investigations and results in numerous lawsuits, then they come around wanting to raid the county's piggybank?

Talk about shameless. At least Mr. Fox can brag that his surname is apt.

(NOTE: According to Stern's 2009 piece, it was Black who supposedly went on the fishing trip to Alaska, not Fox. My apologies for any confusion. I made the correction shortly after this blog was published.)

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