Arpaio

Parade of Fools: Brian Sands Can't Distance Himself From the Bad Acts Detailed in His Book

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Sands' book tears into longtime MCSO colleagues, as well as into Arpaio.

Among them is Frank Munnell, who worked with Sands when they were both sergeants in the early 1990s. The future whistle-blower is described as "too high-strung for too much activity" and "known not to be a hard-working cop."

Current Executive Chief Scott Freeman isn't qualified to be a sergeant, according to Sands. Lisa Allen is held up for frequent disrespect. But most of the trash talk is reserved for Chief Deputy Sheridan.

Sands was a rookie when he met Sheridan. He writes that he always had a "friendly relationship with Sheridan; however, [Sheridan] had a reputation for not taking care of business." Sands goes on that Sheridan has a "class-clown attitude."

Sands claims Sheridan was enthusiastic about Arpaio's plan to go after illegal immigrants for a number of reasons. In one passage, Sheridan's motives are said to be "ethnically biased" because of his alleged use of derogatory terms for various ethnic groups. Sands says he found Sheridan's "divisive and ethnocentric" attitude frightening.

Sheridan and Munnell showed the same lack of common sense, Sands writes. One time, according to Sands, Munnell created and circulated a fake police lineup picture throughout the division that featured several photos of Buckwheat from the old Little Rascals TV series next to one of Sheridan.

Missing from the book, however, is any nasty treatment of Hendershott, whom Sands worked with closely for more than a decade. Oddly, Sands views Hendershott's firing as a purely political move. In his book or in person, Sands won't go so far as to say Hendershott did anything wrong. Neither will Arpaio, for that matter. New Times has asked the sheriff repeatedly in the past few years to name the specific reasons he dismissed Hendershott in early 2011, but Arpaio refuses.

Sands is partially right: Essentially, Arpaio was forced to get rid of Hendershott (which he'd previously sworn he would never do) after a damning investigative report on internal corruption at the MCSO, based on the allegations by Munnell, was released to the public. But as the report and other evidence showed, Hendershott really had committed bad acts at the behest of Arpaio ("Joe Knew," May 26, 2011).

So Sands' lack of suspicion about Hendershott is, in itself, is suspicious.

The 30,000-page investigative report, put together by the office of Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, concluded that Hendershott had used his position for financial gain, lied to the sheriff, used intimidating tactics, and ran an anti-public-corruption task force "contrary to sound law enforcement practices and utilization of resources."

Fact is, Hendershott probably still would be working at the Sheriff's Office if not for Munnell, who blew the lid off the unethical activity.

Munnell, who was contacted by the state Attorney General's Office during its criminal investigation of a campaign-finance scandal tied to Hendershott, handed Arpaio his 63-page rundown of accusations in mid-August 2010. Munnell didn't implicate Arpaio directly, maintaining that the sheriff had been fooled by Hendershott. Arpaio sent the allegations to be investigated by Babeu, a political ally at the time.

The Munnell memo contained many astonishing details.

For example, it exposed that Hendershott and a deputy county attorney, Lisa Aubuchon, had badgered deputies into writing search warrants and probable-cause statements that had little basis in reality. Aubuchon had urged one deputy to use "creative writing" in putting together a warrant (never used) for a planned search of all five County Supervisors' offices. Deputy Chief Bill Knight later told investigators that Arpaio took personal interest in one search warrant of a developer tied to former County Supervisor Don Stapley, asking Knight to include information that would sound more damning when it was released to the media.

Thanks, in part, to the memo and to the Babeu investigation that followed, the public learned how Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas had abused their power by targeting county enemies with trumped-up criminal investigations and a quixotic racketeering lawsuit filed in 2009 against the all five members of the Board of Supervisors, various judges, county officials, and local lawyers. Their crusade ended in catastrophe with the 2012 disbarment of Thomas and millions of dollars getting paid out to their targets in lawsuit settlements.

Arpaio, Thomas, and current or former employees of their offices escaped worse punishment for their deeds when the U.S. Department of Justice dropped a criminal investigation of the matter in 2013.

Yet Sands, instead of filling in crucial details he may know about the events, blasts Munnell in his book for violating chain-of-command policies and making secret recordings. He lambastes Allen, Freeman, and Munnell for complaining about Hendershott to the media without Arpaio's approval.

According to Sands, Sheridan was the driving force behind the Munnell memo -- because Sheridan didn't like Hendershott and wanted him out. Sands writes that he later learned that Sheridan had been in on a previous scheme to "turn the sheriff on Hendershott, and it was discovered and stopped."

Sands writes that he continued to meet with Hendershott after the latter's firing and would pass along messages from Arpaio that the sheriff did not like what happened to his second-in-command.

The author of De Facto Lawman comes across as tone deaf to the severe problems that Frank Munnell revealed.

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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.