Sheriff Joe Arpaio Out of the Loop? Deputy Chief Paul Chagolla Finds That "Hard to Believe"

  A top aide to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio doesn't believe his boss was "out of the loop" of information in his own office.

The opinion by Deputy Chief Paul Chagolla, made to investigators probing the misconduct allegations of some of Arpaio's other top men, fuels the idea that Arpaio knew more about the corrupt, inner workings of his office than he's letting on. Arpaio's former chief financial officer went on TV news with the revelation that she's been telling Arpaio for years that his use of jail enhancement funds was illegal.

We'd have expected Chagolla, an Arpaio sycophant, to have done a better job protecting his boss. Instead, Chagolla's statements in his interview with investigators back up our theories -- not the position of Arpaio and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu that Arpaio was "deceived."

If Arpaio was fully in "the loop," as Chagolla implies, then at the least, the sheriff was complicit in some of the misconduct because he wasn't ignorant of it.   

When Babeu's investigators followed up Chagolla's claim, asking him why he thought Arpaio wasn't out of the loop, Chagolla answered that he didn't agree because, "I am aware that the sheriff speaks to his chief deputy and these discussions, whatever they might be, are that from Sheriff to Chief Deputy." 

Quite a few times, Chagolla explained, he was called into meetings that former Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott and Arpaio were having. He'd answer a few of their questions, then leave.

Disappointingly, the investigators didn't prod Chagolla to rake through his memory and help figure out whether any of these meetings concerned the dirty dealings of Arpaio's Maricopa Anti-Corruption Team, the abuse of jail enhancement funds, the SCA campaign finance scam or other potentially criminal issues. Arpaio was never made a target of the investigation, and the 1,021-page investigative summary report admits that -- even though the probe took six months -- "something less than a full-blown investigation" was conducted.

Conversations between Hendershott and Arpaio "occurred on a regular basis and frequently occurred after everybody left the building, so as to whether he's left out of the loop or not, you know, I find that hard to believe."

Hendershott also told investigators that he had near-daily meetings with Arpaio.

Babeu claims his report shows key info was "filtered" through Hendershott.

Putting that idea together with the statements of Chagolla and Hendershott, the frequent meetings between sheriff and chief deputy were either when:

A) Hendershott was mesmerizing the 78-year-old sheriff with convoluted, illogical explanations about what was going on, sort of like when Jaffar zaps the king with his snake staff in Aladdin, or,

B) Hendershott and Arpaio were figuring out how to screw over the public trust and their enemies, while simultaneously covering up their abuses.  

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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.
Contact: Ray Stern