KEYSTONE KOPPERS: The skinny on the fake plot to whack Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The MCSO's Wells Fargo building brain trust, getting the tip-off on yet another Arpaio assassination "plot."

Somewhere Max Sennett’s skeleton’s rolling over in its dirt crib. His Keystone Kops -- Fatty Arbuckle and all -- couldn’t hold a taper to the laugh riot induced by reading the nearly 200-page MCSO report on this fantasy plot to off our dearly beloved, doddering law-dog Sheriff Joe. You know, the one exposed by The Arizona Republic in its Sunday, October 7 issue? The one where an unnamed confidential informant takes MCSO Chief Larry Black and the rest of the department on a snipe hunt that teams up the Minutemen, immigrants-rights activist Elias Bermudez, and a Mexican drug cartel in a fictional conspiracy to assassinate Arpaio?

What I’ve got to go on here is what MCSO flack Paul Chagolla forked over under a public records request. Hard to grasp this is all, though, because it's friggin' incredulous that the MCSO would’ve missed so many “tells” their con-artist of a confidential informant let drop. The MCSO’s Wells Fargo building brain-trust had their boys follow the source’s loony leads to the most absurd locales: staking out a dairy ranch in the west Valley; flying to Simsbury, CT to interrogate the staff and students of the Ethel Walker School, a prep academy for girls; and taking pics in Mexico in a futile attempt to locate the mysterious “green house,” where the plotters were reputedly receiving $1.5 mil up front in a suitcase of 100-dollar bills.

I’m not knocking the grunts. I reckon they were just doing their jobs, especially since the higher-ups so desperately wanted to believe this javelina hockey. See, Elias Bermudez was supposed to be the go-between in the caper, brokering a $3 million contract on Arpaio’s life, with the Minutemen ponying up the dolo and the Meraz drug-running org using a hit squad hired from the infamous (and some say mythical) Los Zetas paramilitary group. Um, I think the first indication that this tale was a big ol’ pantload would be Bermudez and the Minutemen holding hands.

Some of the most obvious signs of the source’s duplicity are left out of the Republic’s article. Makes you wonder how the Republic got the story to begin with. Were they in bed with Arpaio’s henchmen over this tall tale? Is that why they omitted significant details? The Republic piece mentions two polygraph exams, and states that in the second polygraph, “two of [the informant's] responses about the murder plot registered as deceptive.”

What the Rep doesn’t tell you is that one of those Qs was a real humdinger. Check it:

Q: Have you told the truth about the plan to kill Sheriff Arpaio? A [from the CI]: Yes.

The examiner noted in his analysis of the May 11 poly that the snitch “show[ed] deception” over this question, as well as another about a contact in the Los Zetas paramilitary outfit. The examiner, one Willis Deatherage, said of this stool pigeon’s canards:

“In reference to the question regarding telling the truth about the plan to kill the Sheriff, CI states that he has been truthful, but admits that he has filled in some information that was not given to him specifically.”

So basically, not only was the truth machine telling these Deputy Dawgs that the CI was lying, the CI was telling them he was lying. Hey, at least when he was telling them he was lying, he was really telling them the truth, right?

There’s more. The CI, who had come to the MCSO through the Yuma PD, was being paid by the MCSO for his information: $60 here; $110 there. There’s no total of how much he fooled the MCSO out of, though I count at least $330 from the payouts mentioned, and they also give him a cell phone at one point.

$330 is certainly a pittance in comparison to the $500K the MCSO reportedly spent on the investigation. But that only adds insult to injury: MCSO bigwigs fell for a penny-ante grifter’s verbal three-card Monte, and they’re STILL falling for it. Chief Black, head of Arpaio’s special ops, told the Rep, “We’re still investigating. We still don’t believe it’s over…We still continue to believe the threat is out there.”

To quote the Geico caveman, “What!?” In the MCSO report, the CI tells them, at one point, that he’s been offered $10,000 by the drug smugglers for his role as a translator, but refused receipt of the payment. Then he turns right around and asks his MCSO handlers for $100. Didn’t this make anyone a tad suspicious? What was the CI’s motivation in all this? He doesn’t want to get paid $10K, but he needs $100 for expenses? Puh-lease!

Whenever the MCSO tracks down a specific tip the CI hands ‘em, it turns up snake eyes. He gives them a strip of paper with an e-mail address. They track it down to some teenager in Connecticut at this Ethel Walker girls school, who has about as much to do with the Mexican mafia as does Hannah Montana. These gullible gumshoes do 24-hour surveillance on the Boschma-Gerben Dairy at 8921 West Broadway, riding around it, talking to everybody who works there, all on the tip from the informant who tells them a member of the Los Zetas hit squad – a butch military, John Lennon-glasses-wearin’ chica named “Sgt. Rose” with a heart tattoo on her ankle -- might be hiding out with the cows. Once again, deputies come up empty handed.

Joe’s “Selective Enforcement Unit,” which seems like Joe’s personal Praetorian Guard, is suckered in by these James Bond-ish daydreams where hit squads are studying shaky surveillance video of Arpaio and divvying up their not-so-incognito attire, like Jordache shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, Nike tennis shoes, etc. The MCSO even does its research of the Los Zetas crime group on Wikipedia! Wow. Now that’s really sad, people. Some of their other info. on Los Zetas comes from the uber-right moonbatt site WorldNetDaily; conservative fruitcake William Gheen’s ALIPAC site; and wacko wing-nut Alex Jones’ PrisonPlanet.com. That’s right, you can rest easy at night knowing that the MCSO gets info. from a man who believes 9/11 was an inside job and that world leaders worship Satan up in Bohemian Grove. (That would be Jones, mind you.)

The MCSO comes off as a deeply paranoid and delusional organization. As well as just plain dangerous. It didn’t take much for them to try to tie in Elias Bermudez into this “conspiracy to commit murder” investigation. They even have a copy of that Arpaio-as-Klansman pic Bermudez sent around a couple of months back. (See, "Grand Wizard Arpaio," August 23, 2007). They definitely wanted to take him down. You’d think the informant’s canards linking Bermudez to nativist Minutemen would have caused an arched eyebrow, or two. But no. And that’s where you come off believing that these Rosco P. Coletranes are more menace than comedians. Like Reno 911 or Super Troopers, but with the power to waste big taxpayer bucks and chase chimeras while real criminals get away with murder. Be afraid, people. Be very afraid.

For more on this b.s., see this week's Bird column, the item, "Sheriff Fidel."

And to read about another fake Arpaio "plot," check out John Dougherty's "The Plot to Assassinate Arpaio," August 5, 1999.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.