In March, Maricopa County sheriff's deputy Steve Barnes came forward with damning news: several of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies, Barnes said, had reported to the FBI that they and others had been ordered to surveil Arpaio's political enemies.
If Arpaio did order such surveillance, it could result in his being removed from office.
Arpaio reacted by angrily denying that he had ordered surveillance of anyone. The embattled sheriff announced that his office would begin an internal investigation to determine if such surveillance had been carried out, saying, "We're going to find out if there's any substance to these ridiculous allegations."
Arpaio's chief aide, Director David Hendershott, told the Arizona Republic that Arpaio would not be questioned in the investigation, adding that, "should a deputy have done that [surveillance], of course it would come out. But I can tell you it didn't happen."
Deputies say it was clear Arpaio and Hendershott had no intention for the investigation to find evidence that deputies had been ordered to follow such figures as former Arpaio aide and current sheriff's candidate Tom Bearup or County Attorney Rick Romley.
Last week, that prediction came true. Barnes, the deputy who came forward in the first place, found out that he has now become the target of Arpaio's investigation.
Barnes is president of the Deputies Law Enforcement Association, which is seeking bargaining status as a labor union. Barnes regularly serves as a representative for other deputies, who are precluded from speaking publicly about the sheriff's office. In this case, Barnes turned down a request for an interview, saying that he was under an admonition from internal affairs officers against speaking about the investigation. Fellow DLEA member Sergeant Darrell Smith spoke for Barnes, telling New Times that Barnes was notified he has become the principal, or target, of Arpaio's internal investigation. Smith says Arpaio apparently will try to prove that Barnes lied when he made the allegations in March.
Deputies say Arpaio will attempt to fire Barnes, who has been a thorn in the sheriff's side since Barnes helped organize the DLEA, a group vocal in its criticism of Arpaio. Already, Barnes has paid for his visibility as DLEA's president with an undesirable duty reassignment. Now, deputies say, Arpaio will try to prove that Barnes has defamed the sheriff's office by making false claims about illegal surveillance.
After three months, Arpaio's investigators apparently could find no evidence that deputies had, as Barnes said, gone to the FBI complaining that Arpaio's enemies were being surveilled.
They apparently didn't look very hard. New Times found that very evidence last week.
New Times has obtained the sworn deposition of sheriff's lieutenant James Mann, who was subpoenaed in the assault case of Sean Huskisson, the Scottsdale hairdresser who allegedly attacked Arpaio and Hendershott in a restaurant parking lot.
Huskisson was to have entered a guilty plea to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the case on June 8. Assault charges against him were to have been dropped.
In preparing for the case, Huskisson's attorney, Mike Terribile, attempted to gather evidence that Arpaio and Hendershott had reputations for untruthfulness, particularly when it involved potentially negative press. In March, Terribile subpoenaed Mann. (Mann declined an interview with New Times.)
Mann, head of security in Superior Court, testified that a year ago, he noticed suspicious characters hanging around the courthouse and decided to investigate. Part of his job, Mann said, was to keep an eye on the people who came to see trials, particularly in high-profile cases.
Last May, Mann had just such a case on his hands, the trial of Patrick Bearup, son of sheriff's candidate and former Arpaio aide Tom Bearup.
Patrick Bearup was on trial for shooting at a fleeing car. Convicted of assault, Patrick is currently serving a four-year sentence in state prison. During the trial, his father was a regular visitor.
Mann noticed that whenever Tom Bearup was in court, several suspicious people were there as well. "I observed people that normally would not have any reason to be around the Superior Court building," he testified.
One of them Mann recognized: Brad Dunn, a deputy who worked in special investigations, a division that answers to Arpaio aide David Hendershott.
Mann said he had Dunn questioned about his court appearances, and Dunn admitted that he had been instructed to tail Tom Bearup. Mann reported Dunn's surveillance to both County Attorney Rick Romley and the FBI. (Attempts to reach Brad Dunn were unsuccessful. The County Attorney's office declined to comment.)
Bearup tells New Times that when he attended his son's court appearances, he did notice deputy Dunn. Asked what Dunn was doing, Bearup replied, "Watching me."
"I think I talked to him. Nice guy," Bearup says. Several times, Bearup says, he noticed deputies in the hallways of the courthouse who seemed to be keeping an eye on him.
According to DLEA vice president Darrell Smith, Mann has not been questioned by Arpaio's internal affairs investigators in their supposed attempt to find out if surveillance of Bearup and others occurred. Bearup says he hasn't been questioned either.
But Mann's sworn testimony supports the claims Steve Barnes made in March, when he said that deputies had told the FBI of the tailing of Arpaio's political enemies.
Mann's deposition contains other interesting revelations about Arpaio.
For years, deputies have told New Times that Arpaio's much-publicized jail and law enforcement innovations were really shams put on for a cheerleading local press. One of the cornerstones of Arpaio's myth about himself was that he had spent two nights in Tent City, unafraid to sleep among dangerous inmates with no special precautions to protect him. It was a staple of Arpaio's speeches to retiree groups and visiting journalists.
But in 1996, New Times obtained payroll records of deputies in the Tactical Operations Unit--the county's SWAT team--which showed that on both occasions the TOU officers had been deployed all night in a nearby building, ready to rush into Tent City to rescue Arpaio in case there was trouble. On the second night, when Arpaio took along an Arizona Republic reporter, a TOU sharpshooter was placed on a building overlooking the tents.
Only after New Times obtained the records did the sheriff's office acknowledge that special precautions to protect Arpaio had been taken. But the sheriff himself claimed that he had known nothing about the TOU precautions. "Now whether someone had TOU on call, you'll have to ask the staff on that. But there was no TOU in the tents or around the tents that I know of," Arpaio told New Times in 1996.
Lieutenant Mann's deposition suggests that Arpaio was lying about that as well.
Mann was the commanding officer of the Tactical Operations Unit when Arpaio decided to sleep in Tent City. Mann testified that he spoke personally with Arpaio about the precautions he would be taking, which included selecting a tent with inmates who had no record of causing disturbances in jail. Mann also indicated that Arpaio posed for photographs in jail clothing so he would be recognized by TOU officers.
"I reviewed with [Arpaio] what inmates were left in the tents, which ones, you know . . . that probably would not cause a problem," Mann said. "I made sure that I had photographs of the sheriff when he was dressed in his jail clothes so that I could show the rest of the squad members during our planning sessions."
The second time Arpaio slept in Tent City, he took with him a Republic reporter. Mann says Arpaio wanted to make sure the reporter was unaware that special precautions had been taken.
"On the second occasion that I, we guarded the sheriff when he slept in the tents, I was specifically instructed to make sure that the media did not see my people," Mann testified.
The TOU officers made notations on their paysheets indicating that they had been deployed the two nights in a special operation for the sheriff. New Times obtained these payroll records, forcing the sheriff's office to admit that TOU had worked the detail. Mann testified that the sheriff's office wanted to make sure the press wouldn't be able to embarrass them again in the future.
"My guys couldn't put the reasons for their overtime on their paysheets anymore. We were to use yellow Post-it notes," Mann said during his deposition.
"And why was that?" Mann was asked.
"So that they could be removed. . . . This was after the, what I was told is the paysheets had gone to a newspaper and that my guys had put explanations on it and I was told that that would not be done any longer," Mann answered.
Mann's revelation is but one of many allegations that Arpaio and his aides routinely suppress or alter evidence that would damage Arpaio's image. The sheriff's office recently admitted that it has stopped keeping certain records that New Times had at one time obtained, which showed Arpaio had misused more than $100,000 of state money. Michael Manning, the attorney for the survivors of inmate Scott Norberg, who was asphyxiated in Madison Street Jail, accused Arpaio of destroying or withholding key evidence in a wrongful death suit. Arpaio was forced to turn over documents that seriously undermined his version of facts in the case two years after Norberg's death. Shortly thereafter, the county agreed to an $8.25 million settlement. The sheriff also withheld for two years a crucial videotape from Richard Post, the paraplegic who is suing over his treatment during a single night in jail when he suffered permanent neck damage.
Following a 1996 New Times story ("Mutiny at the County," April 25), which revealed that some of Arpaio's biggest critics worked for him, the sheriff tried to find out which deputies had cooperated in the article's preparation. He fired one suspected "dime-dropper" and then ordered massive reassignments for others that he considered disloyal. Former deputy Robert Wetherell recently described a clandestine meeting held at a Van Buren Street hotel during which Arpaio, Hendershott, public relations aide Lisa Allen and other sheriff's office employees planned the large shift of personnel.
Mann found that he had been put on Arpaio's targeted list of disloyal employees. A resident of the northwest Valley, Mann lost his TOU assignment and was given a patrol job in Mesa. Others targeted by Arpaio were given similarly inconvenient assignments, Mann said.
Later Mann was moved to the unglamorous job of prisoner transport and eventually found himself in the basement of deputy jobs: checking in evidence in the sheriff's property room.
Asked why he had become an undesirable in the eyes of Arpaio, Mann answered that he believed it was a result of his several complaints about the character and practices of David Hendershott over a long period of time.
In the early 1980s, before Arpaio was elected, Mann and Hendershott were assigned to investigate narcotics cases and were supplied with cash that could be used to pay informants. Mann testified that several times, Hendershott did questionable things with his share of the cash, and Mann complained to his supervisor. "In my view Dave Hendershott was spending, when I was around him, he would spend money in situations that I would not have spent it, for food and meals," Mann said. Mann also complained to his supervisor that Hendershott was spending money and then claiming that it had been spent on Mann's cases.
Hendershott's problems with money have repeatedly come up in news stories. The sheriff's chief aide declared bankruptcy in 1986 and 1997 despite a steady, and steadily increasing, deputy's salary. By the end of 1995, Hendershott had amassed federal and state tax debts of more than $69,000. Then, in a single week in March 1996, Hendershott was able to make several payments to reduce that debt by about $15,000. He told New Times that he was able to make the payments when he refinanced his house.
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But that's also the time when sales of souvenir pink boxers were peaking; deputies complained that boxes full of cash were going through Hendershott's office, unaccounted, before the money was delivered to the Posse Foundation.
Tom Bearup, then a trusted aide to Arpaio, twice informed the sheriff that deputies were complaining about Hendershott's handling of the cash. Both times, Bearup has testified, Arpaio refused to investigate. But sources interviewed by FBI agents tell New Times that the FBI has been asking questions about Hendershott and the pink-underwear money as part of a federal investigation of the sheriff's office. In January, the FBI confiscated the Posse Foundation's pink-underwear records.
Bearup says deputies came to him with the complaints about Hendershott because they felt intimidated about coming forward with damaging information about Arpaio or Hendershott.
Mann provided his own account of the intimidation deputies felt. At the time he discovered deputy Brad Dunn was tailing Tom Bearup, Mann said that he began to believe that he himself had become a target of surveillance. In his deposition, Mann testified that he went to Chief Deputy Jadel Roe with his concerns. Mann says Roe, who recently retired to a houseboat in France, warned Mann that coming forward with such complaints would make him a target. "Chief Roe described to me that I should be very concerned. The sheriff places a high premium on loyalty and that I should be very concerned. . . ." Mann said. "And I should be very careful about everything that I do."