Larry Black, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's former No. 3 man, is no longer listed on the Phoenix International Raceway's Web site as director of security.
We can only speculate that he's lost the lucrative job he'd had since 1998 in the wake of damning allegations that caused Arpaio to fire him from the sheriff's office. Lee Baumgarten, PIR's operations director, didn't return repeated calls left by New Times in the last several weeks. That's not surprising, considering that Baumgarten didn't want to comment to the East Valley Tribune when that paper exposed Black's potentially unethical ties to the security job back in 2005.
Black and his favorite aide, Captain Joel Fox, were featured in our April article, Love Connection, which described how the pair send mushy letters to each other while helping run a secret slush fund that benefited Arpaio's 2008 campaign.
The sheriff's office has not yet acknowledged questions we e-mailed a few weeks ago about whether anyone's investigating whether county resources were abused on behalf of Black and his high-paying PIR job. The report on the six-month investigation into the sheriff's office by Pinal County seems to make it clear that some shenanigans were going on.
In interviews with Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and his investigators, Black admitted he'd spend an average of 20 hours a week throughout the year for his PIR job. That's an average, so some weeks he didn't work at all -- and sometimes he took weeks off of his MCSO duties for PIR.
Arpaio apparently turned a blind eye to Black's heavy moonlighting, even while paying Black a hefty taxpayer-funded salary. The Babeu report also detailed how Black would often use an MCSO helicopter to help with the security job during races. Unless the MCSO was reimbursed by the PIR for the use of the chopper, and it doesn't appear that it was, the arrangement should make taxpayers shudder.
A similar arrangement is being investigated internally by the MCSO: Aaron Brown, a deputy who worked as an aide to former Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott, was the director of security for the Fiesta Bowl. An MCSO chopper was also possibly abused for that gig, too. The Babeu report notes that "celebrities" like Lou Ferigno and Stephen Seagal were flown to the Fiesta Bowl in one of the sheriff's three helicopters.
It seems likely to us that Sheriff Arpaio knew that folks like Seagal were getting the royal treatment at the expense of taxpayers, so we're not expecting much from Arpaio's internal probe of the matter.
County officials say the use and alleged abuse of resources and equipment for these off-duty jobs is just one of the many areas that will be checked into over the coming months.
In other sheriff's investigation news:
We're still waiting for the MCSO to release its report on the investigation it conducted into allegations against conservative activist Len Munsil, who was no fan of Arpaio's former ally, Andrew Thomas. It's only been a few weeks since we requested the report, but we were expecting something sooner since the case has apparently been closed for while. We'll let you know when it comes in.
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