Overtime Champ Dave Hendershott (Son of Chief Deputy) Examined Computers in Mesa City Hall Raid


We finally got a chance to inspect the report from the raid on Mesa city buildings last year by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, months after we requested it.

You remember this one -- the nighttime raid on the city government that employed Sheriff Joe Arpaio's law enforcement nemesis, George Gascon, who recently moved to San Francisco.

Though the raid began with a legit tip (by a city employee who may have had an axe to grind), any illusions that this was a normal law enforcement action were shattered last month when the New Yorker magazine reported that Arpaio wanted to raid Mesa again just because the mayor's wife made a negative comment about him.

One of the first things we noticed in the 218-page report was that Dave Hendershott was on hand the morning of the October 16 raid to make copies of the hard drives of certain city computers. We checked with the sheriff's office on that one and found out it wasn't Hendershott, the agency's chief deputy, but his son.

Hendershott, the son, is one of the hardest working computer forensics technicians at the sheriff's office, judging by a recently released report on overtime at the agency. In a nine-month period of extra-high overtime hours at the agency, from February to November of 2007, Hendershott racked up 936 hours of overtime -- "more than twice the amount of overtime recorded by anyone else in this job title."

Hendershott was on scene to copy the hard drives at about 6:30 a.m., but we don't know if he collected OT pay for the assignment.

Who knows -- Hendershott's son may be one of the best techies at the agency, so his superiors rely on him as the go-to guy for high-profile missions like the one in Mesa. We're not saying he doesn't deserve to get his OT pay. On the other hand, we understand why some employees at MCSO -- like the ones suing the agency, alleging $8 million in unpaid overtime -- may look at this situation and grumble.

As far as the rest of the report: As we've stated before, Mesa left itself wide open on this one.

Illegal immigrants used bogus documents to get jobs at a cleaning company that worked inside offices with fairly sensitive information. A manager at the firm told an undercover deputy how to cheat the system to get a job. Fake identification was on file for some employees at the headquarters of the city's municipal security building.

When a security officer (who apparently had an axe to grind) informed the sheriff's office what was going on, Sheriff Arpaio jumped at the chance to embarrass Gascon and Mesa.

The report indicates the sheriff's office wanted to surprise the city with its raid. At about 12:30 a.m. on October 16, a Mesa cop asked a deputy in downtown Mesa what was going on. The cop was told someone would get back to him.

A sheriff's office lieutenant called Mesa police more than hour later, at 1:37 a.m., to let them know city buildings were about to be searched.

The report states that the search warrant was executed -- at exactly 1:37 a.m.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.