Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio doesn't want the public to read an investigative report into the alleged crimes of his top people anytime soon.
In a letter he sent yesterday to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (see below), Arpaio cites an Arizona statute (see 38-1101K) in warning Babeu that the report can't be made public until certain employees mentioned in it have exhausted an appeal process.
Babeu sent the report to Arpaio today. It highlights the findings of an investigation into a 63-page memo written by one of Arpaio's deputy chiefs, Frank Munnell and made public in September. The wide-ranging investigation was conducted by Babeu's office. (Babeu hired private detective Keith Sobraske to do the job.)
People interested in the soap opera/crime drama going on at the MCSO have been anxiously awaiting this one. Last month, the state Attorney General's Office released their findings on a criminal investigation into a scheme to violate campaign finance laws known as the SCA scandal. That report was a gold mine of insight into the corruption that went on under Arpaio's nose (see this week's cover story based on the AG's report here), and the Munnell Memo report ought to be similarly rich. If it ever gets released, that is.
Babeu sent the news media the following statement a few moments ago:
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Investigation Completed
Today, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has met with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and turned over the entire investigation. The documents turned over to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office include the "Investigative Report" which is 1,022 pages and three additional "Findings of Facts" on Chief Deputy David Hendershott, Deputy Chief Larry Black and Captain Joel Fox.
Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, "Our administrative investigation requested by Sheriff Arpaio is complete. My staff and I formally presented the results of the six month long investigation to Sheriff Arpaio during a four hour meeting today. Sheriff Arpaio now needs to digest the reports and make his own determination regarding my recommendations. We are prohibited by law from releasing any details of the investigation until Sheriff Arpaio makes his decisions and due process is afforded to his staff members."
Apparently, Captain Joel Fox is not an "at-will employee" of the county, meaning he can't be disciplined without going through a strict routine, which includes the appeal process. Here's what the above-mentioned statute says about releasing public info on cases that haven't been completed:
An employer shall not include in that portion of the personnel file of a law enforcement officer or probation officer that is available for public inspection and copying any information about an investigation until the investigation is complete or the employer has discontinued the investigation. If the law enforcement officer or probation officer has timely appealed a disciplinary action, the investigation is not complete until the conclusion of the appeal process.
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Knowing how Fox likes to abuse the system in order to keep secrets for himself and his buddies at the Sheriff's Office, the public might be waiting a while. Arpaio and Babeu may worry that his employees may sue over a premature release of the Munnell findings. Fox is pro-lawsuit, for sure, last month submitting a $5 million claim against the county and filing a federal suit over the release of e-mailed love letters between him and Larry Black.