Larry Black, Joel Fox and David Hendershott filed a $22 million claim last week against Maricopa County employees, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and a private investigator over the so-called Munnell Memo probe.
The three current and former Maricopa County Sheriff's Office employees were the main targets of the widely publicized probe that was based on allegations made last year by MCSO Deputy Chief Frank Munnell in his 63-page memo. Sheriff Joe Arpaio ordered the internal investigation after the memo went public, but turned the job over to his political ally, Pinal County Sheriff Babeu, who, in turn, farmed it to to Phoenix private investigator Keith Sobraske.
Arpaio fired Hendershott and Black -- his chief deputy and No. 3 man, respectively -- after the investigation, which uncovered evidence that they'd committed policy violations and/or potential crimes. Captain Fox remains employed by MCSO, but on administrative leave.
Now all three claim to be "victims" in a scheme to destroy their careers and reputations by a cabal of self-interested players including Arpaio, Munnell, various other MCSO employees, the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, County Manager David Smith, County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Babeu and Sobraske.
Hendershott and Fox have already filed lawsuits against various entities.
Hendershott and former deputy county attorney Lisa Aubuchon are suing Maricopa County and the state for $35 million, while Fox seeks $5 million from the county and an unspecified amount in federal complaints against former state Attorney General Terry Goddard and Cox Communications.
In the new notice of claim (see below), filed in Superior Court last Tuesday, Hendershott and Black seek $7 million each, while Fox wants $8 million.
The claim naturally dismisses or glosses over the serious evidence against the trio. Munnell's held out to be a disgruntled employee who, after working undercover as an "agent" for the FBI and state AG's office, typed up his memo because he "was frustrated" that no indictments had been issued against the three.
Munnell and his "allies" held grudges against Hendershott, Black and Fox, states the claim written by Hendershott's Montana lawyer, Edward Moriarity. But a motive for the alleged grudges is only outlined with respect to Hendershott. Supposedly, Munnell was miffed that Hendershott didn't promote him.
Munnell was helped by Gerard Sheridan (Arpaio's new chief deputy), Scott Freeman and Jack MacIntyre, (both deputy chiefs), and Lisa Allen, (the sheriff's longtime spokeswoman), "all of whom benefitted by the wrongful discharge of Larry Black and Dave Hendershott," the claim states.
Babeu's alleged selfish interests came into play after Arpaio turned the investigation over to him.
Clearing the names of the three "victims" wouldn't make headlines for more than a day or two. "However, a finding of some violations would result in a possible springboard for Babeu into a broader politics field, a fact he admitted to after his published findings. He told some reporters that he does have his vision on higher political offices. This opportunity was made to order for his higher goals. However the victims became the stepping stones and fair and impartial went out the window."
Incredibly, Moriarity writes in the claim that a "fair reading" of the 1,022-page Munnell Memo investigative report "just does not support the allegations in Munnell's memo and the findings of the investigation do not support a finding of wrongdoing by the victims."
How about that.
We gave the Munnell Memo and "fair reading" and came to exactly the opposite conclusion, as did many other readers. The biggest problem we saw in the investigation of Munnell's allegations is that Arpaio's stake in the corruption was white-washed.
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