Stephen Lemons Column

Judge Snow Rips the Lid Off an MCSO Riddled With Corruption, Confirming My Reporting in the Process

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The pair also have copped to defying a direct order from Snow in May 2014 concerning the gathering of thousands of videos taken by deputies, which should have been turned over to the plaintiffs before the 2012 trial in Melendres.

All that's left is for Snow to find that there's enough evidence that Sheridan and Arpaio acted willfully, so he can turn over the matter to another judge and the U.S. Attorney's Office for possible prosecution.

See also: -Arpaio's Chief Deputy Confirms Wack Investigations of Judge's Wife, CIA, DOJ, etc. -Arpaio Cops to Investigating Federal Judge, Judge's Wife -Noose Tightens Around Arpaio's Neck as He Channels Ronnie Reagan in Day Two of Contempt Trial -MCSO Sergeant Implicates Arpaio in Willful Defiance of Federal Judge

That shouldn't be too hard because Arpaio and Sheridan were condemned by their own words under direct examination by plaintiffs' counsels Stanley Young and Cecillia Wang.

Young confronted Arpaio with numerous statements the sheriff made in TV interviews and press releases, blustering that he would continue to enforce all immigration laws come hell or high water, despite the 2011 injunction.

But Arpaio contended that he was not referring to federal civil immigration laws.

Arpaio said he delegated dealing with the order to subordinates and disagreed with former Executive Chief Brian Sands' opinion that all deputies should be informed of the order, not just Arpaio's notorious Human Smuggling Unit.

Sheridan, paid close to $200,000 annually to be Arpaio's second in command and run the MCSO, said he did not recall knowing about the 2011 order until his March 2014 deposition in the Department of Justice's abuse-of-power lawsuit against the office.

This would be after Snow found the MCSO guilty of racial profiling in 2013, making the preliminary injunction permanent.

And it would be after a 2013 videotaped briefing with deputies where Sheridan called Snow's decision in Melendres "ludicrous" and "crap."

Even harder to buy is Sheridan's excuse for defying a direct order from Snow on May 14, 2014, when the judge told Sheridan and Arpaio to develop a plan to "quietly" gather thousands of videos taken by deputies that had not been disclosed to the court or the plaintiffs, and to get the monitor's approval for it.

Not even 30 minutes after Snow told him what to do, Sheridan ordered Deputy Chief David Trombi to fire off an e-mail to 27 Sheriff's Office commanders, thereby giving them a heads-up and a chance to destroy damning evidence.

Witnessing this order to Trombi were Arpaio and the sheriff's attorney Tim Casey, plus MCAO attorneys Tom Liddy and Christine Stutz.

At a meeting with the monitor that same day, Sheridan said nada about his countermanding the judge's order. Later, Trombi and Stutz reminded Sheridan of his order to Trombi.

Still, in a letter to the monitor written that evening, Sheridan avowed that it was unknown who had given Trombi the order to send the offending e-mail.

Only afterward did Sheridan come clean to the monitor.

Sheridan cited "fatigue and confusion" as reasons why he so royally screwed up.

Apparently, this case of the vapors was brought on by a "slight migraine" he was suffering that day.

The chief deputy explained that he's been getting migraines for "approximately 40 years" and takes medication for them.

In any case, I don't think the "migraine defense" will save him here.

Snow seems likely to refer Arpaio and Sheridan for charges of criminal contempt, based on their testimonies.

Arpaio and Sheridan's co-defendants, former Executive Chief Sands, Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre, and Lieutenant Joe Sousa, may bear varying degrees of responsibility for one or more of the civil-contempt allegations.

But Sands, MacIntyre, and Sousa have not conceded guilt, and it's difficult for me to see them on the hook for some sort of criminal violation.

Certainly, their culpability is by no means on the same level as Sheridan's and Arpaio's, with Arpaio playing Emperor Palpatine to Sheridan's dutiful and rather dimwitted Darth Vader.

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