Phil Roberts Exaggerated the Phoenix PD's Kidnapping Statistics, Then Tried to Debunk His Own Numbers

A close-up photo of a dead man's battered face flashes on the large screen, his closely shaved head on its side — streaked, dried blood and a blackened, bloated tongue protruding between pale lips.

The image lingers for a moment, then comes another.

A woman's hand. Flesh hangs from her nearly severed middle finger. Her face is bruised; her eyes appear swollen shut. Her abductors have etched a message on her belly: "Call me."

And still more gruesome photographs of faceless victims — heads wrapped tightly with tape, one body stuffed in the trunk of a car, two more discarded in the desert.

The slideshow documented crimes committed right here in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States of America. Sometimes in broad daylight. It's shocking, terrifying stuff, and on a spring day in 2008, before a seminar for law enforcement at a local FBI field office, Phoenix Police Sergeant Phil Roberts narrated the carnage.

Roberts, an average-size man with a shock of dirty blond hair clipped closely above his ears and the clean-cut face of a cop, described the torture endured by the victims on display — victims of the border-related kidnapping crisis that has seized Phoenix for the better part of five years.

The self-proclaimed kidnapping expert captivated his audience as he described the "anatomy of a kidnapping," which involves illegal immigrants being held hostage in exchange for ransom by the coyotes who smuggle them into the United States.

Home invasions coupled with kidnappings typically involve drug smugglers and drug dealers busting into each other's homes and ripping off loads of drugs or taking hostages for ransom demands as high as $1 million. Those cases are far more brutal, he explains.

Roberts' fellow cops certainly left the room that April day with vivid images seared into their memories from that slideshow, but it was something Roberts said that proved the most difficult to forget.

The supervisor for the Phoenix Police Department's Robbery Unit announced that his city was the nation's "kidnapping capital" — a phrase that catapulted both Phoenix and Roberts into the national media spotlight.

Roberts revealed that day that the number of kidnapping cases — and the level of violence associated with them — was on the rise in Arizona. Phoenix handled 359 kidnapping cases in 2007 alone, he said, and emphasized that every single one of them was tied to illegal immigration.

Though some Phoenix police and city officials have been confused about the origin of the phrase "America's kidnapping capital" — some incorrectly attributing it to the media — its first traceable reference comes from Roberts' presentation that day in 2008.

In his job at the time, Roberts led a squad of police detectives who responded to general robberies, as well as the violent home invasions and brutal kidnappings spurred by drug and human smugglers working across the Arizona-Mexico border. He was in a position to know firsthand of the violence plaguing Phoenix.

And people were listening to him.

A member of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association who attended Roberts' training seminar wrote an article for the local police union newsletter headlined, "Phoenix AZ, Kidnap Capital, USA."

Two months later, Roberts was making national television appearances. He reinforced Phoenix's reputation as the nation's kidnap capital during a June 2008 appearance on Fox News' Hannity's America, where he repeated that 359 kidnappings in 2007 were attributable to drug smuggling and the border.

At least 15 more times between 2008 and 2009, Roberts talked about border-related abductions to national media outlets, including Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, America's Most Wanted, and National Geographic. The high numbers cited from 2007 turned into equally terrifying numbers in 2008, Roberts reported.

In a February 12, 2009, article in the Los Angeles Times, Roberts warned that the vicious kidnappings in Mexico that prompt bank officials to travel with armed guards could take root in the United States, and that Phoenix cops are "trying to prevent that from happening."

A few months later, seemingly out of the blue, Roberts' story changed completely.

Instead of making national media appearances to talk about dangerous kidnappings, he went on a memo-writing campaign to explain the dangers within his own police department.

In late 2009, Roberts announced that the Phoenix PD task force handling kidnap and home invasion cases was nothing more than a "golden ticket" for detectives to build their résumés. He started downplaying the figures he'd been touting. In his voluminous memos, Roberts claimed that Phoenix kidnapping statistics were bogus and intentionally inflated by police officials to defraud the federal government of grant money.

He claimed that Phoenix had only 20 to 30 border-related kidnap cases a year, instead of the 300-plus logged in 2008.

The Phoenix Police Department stood by its numbers, even when New Times reviewed records and found them to be grossly inflated. The agency's defiant stance and failure to examine the statistics more closely is what effectively ended the career of Public Safety Manager Jack Harris, who retired after the city manager reassigned him to oversee municipal building security out of an office at Sky Harbor International Airport.

Roberts, meanwhile, claimed he'd exposed the police department's "corruption." He called himself a hero and a whistle-blower.

The truth? This cop was anything but.

As it turns out, Phil Roberts made his allegations about corrupt police officials and inflated statistics after he was passed over for a job to head a team of investigators chasing those kidnappers. A job he really wanted.

He understood that statistics generated by kidnapping cases could be misleading, because their accuracy hinges on detectives properly labeling police reports or investigations. He knew that his own unit wasn't living up to that responsibility, but that did not stop him from accusing Phoenix officials of intentionally blowing the kidnapping crisis out of proportion — even though that wasn't the case.

Roberts' claims that top Phoenix police officials exaggerated kidnapping statistics to defraud the feds out of grant money were debunked by a panel of experts who conducted an in-depth review of the statistics at the behest of the Phoenix city manager. The panel found that the statistics Phoenix released in 2008 were, indeed, flawed — but they were severely under-reported, not inflated.

And this was not due to corruption. Instead — the best anyone could tell — it was lousy recordkeeping.

There are several reasons why Roberts embarked on a campaign to "expose" the Phoenix Police Department.

He alluded to some in his writings, including the mounting stress of a crumbling professional and personal life that was taking its toll on him. Before Roberts fired off a series of very public allegations against top Phoenix police officials, he was a dedicated investigator with an impressive track record in law enforcement. After, he seemed more like a disgruntled employee dealing with the end of a 22-year marriage and the downward spiral of a career that also spanned more than two decades.

When his allegations didn't go anywhere, he concluded that those at the highest levels of the police department were part of the conspiracy against him.

Roberts told New Times that he can't talk about his case because he is currently under investigation by the Phoenix Police Department. Phoenix police officials declined requests for interviews.

But police internal investigative reports, court documents, and Roberts' own memos, e-mails, and personnel files — all acquired through public information requests — as well as background interviews, tell the story.

"There's the black and white written word you can look at weeks, months, years later, but what you don't get is what is happening behind the scenes and the face-to-face conversations," said Dave Kothe, vice president of the Phoenix police officers' union.

When he joined the Phoenix Police Department more than 25 years ago, Phil Roberts was eager to please. Like any rookie cop, he had some polishing to do when it came to writing reports and keeping vigilant on the job. His superiors thought Roberts had potential. Notes in his personnel file indicate he exceeded expectations when it came to his attitude, investigative techniques, and handling stress on the job — skills he perhaps had picked up during his military service.

Born in 1962, Roberts grew up in Phoenix and graduated from Cortez High School on the west side of town. He took a few community college courses, served four years in the U.S. Navy, and then joined the Phoenix Police Department in 1985. He married the following year, according to his divorce file in Maricopa County Superior Court, and fathered three children.

Roberts was dedicated to the job, an ardent over-achiever. He indicated on his city employment records that he dabbled in mountain climbing, scuba diving, and photography.

As he moved up the ranks, it seems he thought some of his colleagues were envious of his promotion to sergeant.

"At times, individuals . . . I have worked with or around mistake my enthusiasm or energy for this job as tension," he wrote in a note to his supervisor in 2007. "In reality, I look upon it as a . . . stinging of one's ego, brought upon my rank of sergeant, making command decisions in the heat of battle."

When he arrived in the Robbery Unit in 2006, police officials had already established the connection between human and drug smuggling and the storm of kidnapping and home invasion cases assailing the city. But there wasn't a dedicated team of investigators handling those cases; instead, they were being juggled by detectives also dealing with general robbery crimes.

Phil Roberts ran the kidnapping and home invasion investigations with little interference from his supervisor. He relished the media attention and the hefty overtime pay associated with working complicated cases that involved trying to locate and rescue kidnapping victims from the hands of drug dealers and human smugglers.

Police officers who used to work with Roberts said he would brag about being the highest-paid sergeant in the Phoenix Police Department. City records show that Roberts pocketed more than $150,000 worth of overtime and on-call pay in the four years he worked on kidnap and extortion cases.

In 2008, Phoenix Police Lieutenant Laurel Burgett was assigned to the Violent Crimes Bureau, which was home to Roberts' Robbery Unit. She created the Home Invasion and Kidnapping Enforcement (HIKE) unit, a special task force that would exclusively take over those cases from the Robbery Unit. She assigned another sergeant to lead that team, passing over Roberts, who she noted in performance reviews did not effectively manage the detectives assigned to him or complete administrative duties.

Roberts grumbled about not being selected for the job. His disappointment was obvious. At times, he told his lieutenant that he was being treated like a child and that he should be the HIKE sergeant. Other times, a more contrite Roberts told her that he understood her decision and would work on his management skills.

He remained the Robbery Unit sergeant but also served as a backup HIKE sergeant. He could still tap his stream of overtime pay and participate in the adrenaline-pumping, high-profile kidnapping rescues.

A year went by. Lieutenant Burgett found that many of the cases HIKE encountered were linked to drug-trafficking operations. She decided the unit would be better off leaving the Violent Crimes Bureau and moving into the Drug Enforcement Bureau.

Roberts knew he would be left behind. He would no longer get to work the kidnapping cases or cash in on the overtime.

The move was planned for September 2009, and just one month before his ties to the task force were severed, Roberts' message about kidnapping cases in Phoenix took a drastic turn.

The same man who stood before law enforcement officers in April 2008 and talked about how kidnapping cases were escalating in frequency and violence had begun saying that police officials lied about the magnitude of the problem and that the statistics were "bogus."

He conveniently omitted that he had repeatedly disseminated those kidnap counts, he had sounded the alarm about the increasing violence, and he had billed Phoenix as the kidnap capital to media outlets across the country.

Roberts' voluminous memos, reviewed by New Times, do not paint a picture of a whistle-blower or a hero. Rather, they show a man desperate to discredit those who dimmed his moment in the spotlight and slashed his access to overtime pay when they snipped his ties to the high-profile cases.

Roberts' allegations went as far as claiming Phoenix police officials were in on the conspiracy to defraud the federal government of more than $2 million in grants.

It wasn't the only accusation he'd lodged against his own police agency, but it was the one that caught the attention of the public — and the U.S. Department of Justice. The federal agency visited Phoenix in January to get a closer look at those figures. Their inquiry is ongoing.

Stress eventually got the better of Phil Roberts.

Before he went on stress leave — and even while he was on leave — the seasoned sergeant launched dozens of allegations against Phoenix police officials.

One of the most shocking was that high-ranking Phoenix police officials intentionally inflated kidnapping statistics to swindle the federal government out of grant money aimed at combating crimes with ties to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Though statistics can be misleading, for state and local investigators charged with combating the violence tied to border-related kidnappings and home invasions, the magnitude of Phoenix's kidnapping problem is unmistakable.

The pictures that Phil Roberts showed to his colleagues in April 2008 were very real.

"We see some of the most violent people in the country," Phoenix Police Sergeant Harry Reiter, a member of a special state task force that roots out makeshift neighborhood prisons and rescues kidnap victims, told New Times last year ("Seized: Inside America's Kidnapping Capital," August 12, 2010).

The home invasions and kidnappings are not taking place in remote corners of the Valley. They are taking place in neighborhoods, in average single-family homes that are doubling as suburban prisons for hostages who are beaten and tortured until a ransom is paid for their freedom.

Cops confiscated a video from one of the houses where violent kidnappers stashed their victims and allowed New Times to view a typical beating last year:

A man with wavy, black hair and a pale face can be seen lying on his side, a semiautomatic weapon just inches from his head. A coyote's hand is pushing down the man's head to keep him from moving. The victim's eyes are squeezed tightly shut. For a moment, he opens them — wide — and the horror is unmistakable. The gun still in his face, he squeezes his eyes shut. His lips are moving rapidly (there is no sound on the video). He opens and closes his eyes a second time. The hand that is holding down the victim's head suddenly goes up in the air, and — crack! — a fist slams into the side of the man's head, ripping the skin near his ear. Blood oozes down his temple.

The video ends.

State and local investigators reported that kidnappers kick and punch hostages, beat them with baseball bats, submerge them in bathtubs and electrically shock them, burn their flesh with blowtorches, smash their fingers with bricks, slice their bodies with butcher knives, shoot them in their arms and legs, and cut open their backs with wire-cutters.

As New Times reported a year ago, the kidnapping business is thriving in Phoenix because more border traffic has been siphoned through Arizona over the past 15 years. As migration routes shifted to Arizona, many immigrants turned to coyotes to help them get across the Sonoran Desert.

And some of those coyotes have been anything but friendly.

Smuggling immigrants for nearly $2,000 each became a profitable venture, almost as lucrative as running drugs or weapons across the U.S.-Mexico border. Drug cartels joined forces with human smugglers in Mexico or branched out to include humans as part of their own cargos. With the promise of making even more money, coyotes paid to guide their victims to a better life turned into kidnappers.

Many cases go unreported, and victims and their families are reluctant to cooperate with police for fear of being deported.

Roberts took advantage of the obscurity of kidnapping cases when he leveled his damning allegations.

As Phil Roberts rose up through the ranks at the Phoenix Police Department, his supervisors remarked upon how he stayed cool and collected in even the toughest undercover jobs.

Roberts' subsequent supervisors made similar observations but said there still was room for improvement, even as he was promoted to sergeant.

"Your biggest challenge concerns your administrative duties," a supervisor wrote in Roberts' 2001 performance review, but most of the comments were glowing, and his fieldwork was described as "peerless."

The positive reviews would continue, as would the commendations filed in his personnel jacket.

In July 2006, Roberts was transferred to the Violent Crimes Bureau as a robbery sergeant. Though it appeared that Roberts' professional life was shining brightly, a storm was brewing in the Roberts household. Roberts' personal and professional woes left him standing in a world he couldn't control.

Roberts was going through a divorce after 22 years of marriage, and he was losing a grip on his lead spot among kidnapping investigators.

His then-wife, Elisabeth Roberts, also a Phoenix police sergeant, left him for Randy Force, a fellow Phoenix police officer. There was tension in the halls, and, at one point, Roberts confronted Force in his office. Roberts also told others that should he die on the job, Force would not be allowed at his funeral.

Roberts' behavior did not go unnoticed.

"You have gone through some extraordinarily personal issues," Lieutenant Anthony Vasquez wrote in Roberts' 2007 performance review. "I encourage you to keep positive in your outlook and seek support from your friends and co-workers."

On February 12, 2007, seven months after he joined the Robbery Unit, he moved out of his house in Anthem and into an East Phoenix condo.

He filed for divorce in June 2007.

"I have come to realize very quickly how important it is to have a supportive lieutenant to work for, not only for job-related issues but personal matters as well," he wrote to Vasquez.

When police officials assigned Lieutenant Burgett to oversee the Robbery Unit in June 2008, she also listened to Roberts' tales of personal woe — to a point.

A combination of a busy work schedule (including supervising several squads) and an all-business demeanor left fewer opportunities for Roberts to hang around her office. And Burgett and Force were good friends, having worked together in the Phoenix Police Department's Public Affairs Bureau.

Clearly, Roberts' stress was not just driven by the job.

One day in June 2009, Roberts left work early to attend his son's high school graduation, where his ex-wife would be. Before he left, he told Burgett that he had not seen her in a while and wondered how he would handle an encounter with her.

The next day, he called Burgett upset and angry and told her he needed to take the morning off because he saw Force kiss his ex-wife's cheek after the ceremony.

Burgett told him to take whatever time he needed.

While she tried to accommodate his personal needs, she also demanded that he perform as a manager.

"We have worked to divide the responsibilities of the overburdened detectives . . ." Burgett wrote in Roberts' 2008 performance review. "Another advantage to this division in responsibilities: It allows for you to focus and better manage the detectives assigned to you."

She urged him to control his "expressive," or dramatic, nature.

"I know this is a demonstration of your enthusiasm for a job well done," she wrote. "But I would caution you to be factual and concise when disseminating information outside of our bureau."

Roberts, accustomed to far more glowing reviews, was furious. In his memos, he repeatedly called them the "worst notes" he'd ever received on his performance during his 24 years as a police officer.

He adopted the acronym "FTB" (Fuck the Bitch), and wrote it on his office white board, along with other war-related scribblings.

"Find a New Wife???" he wrote on the board, and beneath it: "Who needs one FTB!"

The board was also peppered with quotes, perhaps illustrative of his own struggles:

"If it bleeds, we can kill it." — Predator

"In Robbery, no one can hear you scream." — paraphrased from Alien

"To win a war . . . you must become war." — Rambo: First Blood Part II

On August 2, 2009, a month before HIKE's anticipated move to the Drug Enforcement Bureau, Roberts wrote his first memo blasting Burgett.

He accused her of destroying public records, fostering a hostile work environment rife with sexual and racial discrimination, violating the civil rights of a kidnapping suspect, botching a criminal investigation, and retaliating against him for exposing her misdeeds.

Roberts' allegations fell mostly flat after they were investigated by the Professional Standards Bureau (the internal affairs arm of the Phoenix Police Department), the city's Equal Employment Department, and the City Manager's Integrity Committee, which reviews various complaints.

A few weeks later, Roberts forged a symbiotic relationship with the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, the police union for rank-and-file cops. The union welcomed Roberts on September 1, 2009.

While PLEA's agenda was to oust Harris, a chief known for his opposition to union officials' political push for local cops to engage in anti-immigration enforcement, Roberts seemed obsessed with bringing down Burgett.

Together, Roberts and PLEA unloaded an arsenal of allegations against police. At first, kidnapping statistics were not on the top of their list. The claim registered only a few sentences on page four of his first 20-page memo.

"Statistics continually are shifted and moved around to meet agendas and perpetuate the idea that kidnappings and home invasions required a huge police response with millions of dollars in federal grant money," he wrote in his August 2009 memo to Marquita Beene, an investigator in the city's Equal Opportunity Department. "This, in spite of the fact that the number of 'operational' kidnappings have drastically decreased and the organized home invasion crews seemed to be few and far between."

Yet, nine months earlier, Roberts himself nominated the Robbery Unit for the 2008 Police Chief Unit Award, partially for their herculean efforts in dealing with the "influx of border-related crimes."

Roberts again contradicted himself in an April 12, 2010, memo as he explained that his team of robbery detectives fell behind because they deal with 5,000 cases a year, unlike HIKE detectives, who "receive approximately 300 kidnapping and 50 home invasion investigations a year."

Although Roberts' allegations weren't adding up, he was undeterred. If his allegations were proved false, Roberts accused investigators of being part of the conspiracy against him.

On different occasions, Roberts wrote: "I feel I have been the repeated target [of] retaliation from upper-level management . . ." And "I believe that Professional Standards Bureau is now a co-conspirator in EEO retaliation."

Later he wrote, "Several union officials have cautioned me over the past few days that as the allegations are brought forward, officials reading this memorandum may make statements that 'Phil is out of control,' 'He's crazy,' or 'He's doing this because of his divorce.'"

But he continued writing. And contradicting himself.

Roberts claimed repeatedly that police officials retaliated against him for being a "whistle-blower" by forcibly removing him from the Robbery Unit.

However, on September 25, 2009, he sent an e-mail to his detectives telling them he was voluntarily leaving the unit.

In September 2009, Roberts requested a transfer from the Robbery Unit to the Squaw Peak Precinct until he "found a more permanent home." He told police officials that he made the request because it was in his best interest, as well as the unit's. His request was granted on October 5, 2009.

Also, in a February 19, 2010, memo, he admitted that he "did submit three transfer requests in 2009, all to leave Lieutenant Burgett's span of control."

Roberts wanted to return to the Robbery Unit, in part because he suffered a "financial hit." He was not allowed.

City records show that prior to joining the Robbery Unit, in 2005, Roberts made $6,864 worth of overtime and on-call pay. In 2006, his first year as a Robbery Unit sergeant handling kidnap and home invasion cases, it doubled to about $12,100. The following year, it surpassed $50,000.

By 2008, his overtime and on-call pay alone hit a striking $66,952.80.

After Burgett moved HIKE to the Drug Enforcement Bureau, Roberts' overtime income dropped considerably.

In December 2009, he filed a claim against the city seeking $500,000 in damages for their retaliation against him for exposing their alleged misdeeds. He followed it up with a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, which city attorneys will ask the courts to dismiss.

In February 2010, he filed a second claim against Phoenix, naming in it all those who he believed wronged him. In it, he asked for millions of dollars to settle the claim.

By that time, after a year of writing lengthy memos and distributing them to City Hall and other city investigators, Roberts said he was diagnosed with "extreme stress" and went on an eight-month leave. But he kept writing.

When he returned in mid-August 2010, police officials placed him on administrative leave and notified him that he was under investigation.

Phoenix police officials have not revealed to New Times the nature of the investigation of Roberts. When he realized he was on the receiving end of an investigation, Roberts went back on stress leave and didn't return until October 3, 2010.

When federal investigators' initial inquiry found discrepancies in police reports linked to the 356 kidnapping cases in 2008, Roberts stood tall and took credit for blowing the whistle.

While the federal inquiry is ongoing, a five-member panel convened by City Manager David Cavazos revealed in May that detectives were not managing their cases properly, causing reports to be mislabeled and statistics skewed.

When Phoenix police diligently combed through the reports, the 358 kidnapping cases in 2008 almost doubled.

The panel revealed that Phoenix dealt with more than 600 kidnap cases in 2008, and that it found no "credible evidence" that police officials intentionally inflated any numbers.

Roberts knew that detectives' shoddy case management would screw up the stats, and he even described it in an August 9, 2010, memo.

"As senior Robbery Sergeant at the time, I was familiar with all of these explanations and how they evolved," he wrote. "Many of the 300-plus kidnappings that were reported to the Robbery Unit each year had to do with routing errors."

Knowing the root of the problems with statistics did not stop him from claiming that the figures were intentionally exaggerated or from quoting the higher figures himself.

In fact, four days after explaining to city investigators that routing errors were to blame for the erroneous statistics, Roberts reiterated his claims that Phoenix intentionally inflated those figures to get federal funding.

He doesn't mention in his memos that he was one of the very sergeants who should have been ensuring detectives were properly managing those kidnap and home invasion case files in 2007 and most of 2008.

And he pushed his claims as truth, even when he knew his allegations were just his own "plausible explanations."

"I do not attest that any of these . . . reasons are the sole or even a partial reason as to what is and what is not occurring," he wrote — a convoluted way to say that his allegations are mere speculation — in the same memo in which he questioned the accuracy of the kidnapping statistics.

The firestorm of controversy that engulfed the Phoenix Police Department and led to Chief Harris' dismissal could have been prevented.

Phoenix police officials had access to all of Roberts' memos and to the police reports that supposedly were linked to the kidnapping cases, and they had discovered similar reporting errors with homicide cases in 2007.

Even a cursory review of those documents and an honest public explanation would have likely quelled questions about the integrity of an entire police department. It might have even spared then-Public Safety Manager Jack Harris' job.

Phoenix and its police agency remained defiantly silent, allowing PLEA to shop the story and spread a one-sided tale of corruption among police officials.

Harris had to know that statistics are thrown off when police officers do not properly label cases or update case files. His department had similar issues with homicide statistics in 2007 and, thus, ordered a special audit.

The report revealed that homicide stats were wrong because detectives weren't managing their cases properly — the same problem the five-member panel found with home invasions and kidnapping cases.

Police investigators who authored the 2007 homicide audit pointed out that when "a case agent fails to update case management with proper statute and/or offense codes" . . . it "could result in inaccurate homicide statistics."

Instead, police officials repeatedly told the public for months that the kidnapping counts were valid and had been thoroughly reviewed. Neither claim was true.

Even when PLEA requested all the reports tied with the 2008 statistics, police officials didn't actually have anyone read them to get a handle of what information the union was collecting.

On January 26, Harris told the Arizona Republic that the police officials had "gone over [the statistics] multiple times and can back up every number with a report."

Not even after New Times reviewed the police reports associated with the 2008 kidnapping statistics, finding that many were not linked at all to kidnapping cases, would Harris or police representatives offer an explanation.

Harris initially agreed to an interview, but the following week had a police spokesman cancel it. New Times ran its story ("Kidnapping Capital," February 17) without any comment from the Phoenix Police Department.

A police spokesman issued a statement the following week, on February 28, confirming New Times' findings. He said a police audit of the kidnapping and home invasion incidents "determined that there are reports that do not belong in these statistics."

Phoenix officials finally launched an internal investigation into the validity of the statistics and formed an outside panel to conduct its own review.

Cavazos reassigned Harris in early March to Sky Harbor International Airport, effectively stripping him of his stripes. Harris resigned on April 15.

Phoenix officials, awaiting the findings of federal auditors, are working now to rebuild trust among residents. They are also training detectives and their supervisors on proper case management.

In the end, there were no winners.

Public trust in an entire agency was fractured because police officials failed to deal with the controversy.

Several police lieutenants, including Burgett, and the entire police department are trying to repair their muddied reputations.

A Phoenix police chief who admirably served the city for decades ended his career under a cloud of controversy and allegations of corruption.

And Phil Roberts, a loyal cop who dedicated his life to the Phoenix Police Department, turned into a bitter detractor trying to discredit his own agency, and was crippled by stress.

Sources tell New Times that Roberts suffered a mild heart attack in May. They also report that he's now back on the job, and still writing memos.

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Monica Alonzo
Contact: Monica Alonzo