Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Captain Joel Fox has lost his federal lawsuit against former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, whom Fox accused of improperly allowing the release of embarrassing e-mails.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Neil Wake had already dismissed the part of Fox's complaint that targeted an investigator and supervisors working under Goddard. An August 30 settlement conference has been set in the separate complaint Fox launched against Cox Communications for its role in the e-mail debacle, though no settlement terms have been finalized.
Wake noted in his order today that Goddard's case was being dismissed, with prejudice, on the same grounds that he dismissed the action against Goddard's underlings -- namely that the state had the right to serve a search warrant on Fox's e-mail account.
Fox, a key figure from one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's worst scandals, filed the complaints on the same day that New Times published excerpts from a state investigative report showing he and one of Arpaio's top aides, Larry Black, shared an unusually loving relationship.
As our April 14 feature article described, the emotional e-mails helped explain why it took months and the threat of a $315,000 fine to make Fox cough up the names of Black and the others involved in an alleged campaign-finance crime.
State investigators looking into the so-called SCA scandal uncovered tons of evidence that led them to believe Fox had committed campaign violations and fraud, while Arpaio's former chief deputy, Dave Hendershott, was believed to have run the criminal "enterprise" and obstructed justice to cover his tracks.
Tom Horne, the new AG, declined to continue investigating the case after Goddard left office and turned it over to the feds.
Fox is currently on administrative leave from the sheriff's office as he appeals disciplinary proceedings. His name came up prominently in the damning tell-all memo by Deputy Chief Frank Munnell, a document that spawned an even-more-damning internal investigation. The probe, conducted at Arpaio's request by the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, uncovered evidence of policy violations and potential crimes by Fox, Black and Hendershott.
Still not released for public viewing is about one-third of a 1,022-page report released in May on the investigation's findings -- mainly the part about Fox's role in the SCA scandal.
We have no clue whether today's ruling would affect Fox's potential settlement with Cox, but if we were the communications company, we'd offer only this advice: When you're engaged in shady, potential criminal schemes, don't put things in e-mails you wouldn't want everyone to see.
But even if Cox denies Fox, the captain might still see his ship come in.
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As we reported yesterday, Black and Hendershott -- who were fired by Arpaio after the report was made public -- last week launched a multimillion-dollar claim against Arpaio, Pinal Sheriff Babeu, Phoenix private investigator Keith Sobraske and a long list of other county players.