Questionable Characters Make Way Into Posses

"If any member misuses their identification in any way, they're kicked out of the posse. That's one of the biggest no-no's," says Executive Posse Commander Marvin Weide.

Perhaps because of the sheer volume of volunteers eager to join Sheriff Joe Arpaio's civilian army, however, several undesirables have been kicked out of the posses, and deputies complain many more were allowed to join with inadequate background checks.

In March 1994, when the flood of volunteers was at its peak, Lieutenant Roy Reyer produced a five-page memo which listed a string of concerns about the new posse members.

"During the bi-weekly posse orientation meetings, where over 80 citizens have come to sign up, you will meet several 'Rambos,' 'Otis' the town drunk, and a lot of washed out cop 'want-a-bes' whose only perception of police work comes from watching 'COPS,'" Reyer wrote.

One of the biggest concerns among deputies: that some volunteers were getting through who had no business in law enforcement. "In one instance," Reyer wrote, "a new posseman was given the assignment of treasurer of the Operations Posse. Over five thousand dollars of this posse's funds were in his control. A background check of this individual later showed that he had an outstanding out of state warrant for fraud."

Reyer claimed that other posse members showed up to class drunk or carrying concealed weapons. Others fell asleep in class.

Others passed their background checks but later committed acts that got them booted from the posse. Richard Mysliwiec, 1994 Jeep Posse Man of the Year, was asked to leave the posse when the Sheriff's Office realized his background check had failed to turn up a 1993 arrest for theft.

Sandor Benyik was kicked out of the Operations Posse in 1996 after he was arrested for child molestation.

Mike Donnelly, a member of the Litchfield Park Posse, was found in possession of a stolen 1995 GMC Jimmy. Donnelly told investigators he didn't think it unusual he'd paid only $250 for the automobile to someone in a river bottom. Donnelly had put emergency lights on the vehicle, and stolen hand-held radios were found inside. The Jimmy was eventually returned to the dealer who had reported it missing, and Donnelly was asked to leave the posse.

There was also the posse member, Reyer wrote, "who was late for boarding a commercial aircraft, flashed his badge and was permitted to board after identifying himself as a deputy sheriff on official business."

That posse member was Marvin Weide, commander of the Executive Posse and sentry against the "big no-no."

The Sheriff's Office claims that Weide simply laid his wallet on a ticket counter with his badge showing, and that he wasn't responsible for the reaction of airline employees. Weide himself says even that is an exaggeration: He claims that the plane was held up simply because he had lost his tickets and needed to buy another set.

--Tony Ortega

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Tony Ortega
Contact: Tony Ortega