Steve Carpenter has resigned as a deputy from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office following accusations that he helped another deputy in a plan to assault a North Dakota man.
No allegation ever surfaced that Carpenter helped former deputy Tim Abrahamson pummel West Fargo resident Jason Swart, who'd had an affair with Abrahamson's wife a year before the September 2012 beating that cost Swart part of an ear. Still, Carpenter drove the 1,600 miles to West Fargo with Abrahamson and may have known what his buddy was going to do.
Abrahamson pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of aggravated assault and faces a June 27 sentencing hearing in which he could get up to five years in prison.
Carpenter was given immunity by prosecutors in Cass County, North Dakota, in return for giving information about Abrahamson. Info released in the case indicate that Carpenter helped stake out Swart's home just prior to the attack.
Full details of the assault and Carpenter's involvement are not yet available to the public. Tristan Van de Streek, Cass County prosecutor, tells New Times that North Dakota law prohibits the release of the police report and various records in the case until after Abrahamson is sentenced.
Still unclear is the date that the Maricopa agency knew about the allegations against Carpenter and Abrahamson, and what the Sheriff's Office did with the knowledge.
West Fargo authorities let the Sheriff's Office in Phoenix know that Abrahamson was a suspect just a few days after the assault, and the Sheriff's Office put the deputy on paid leave.
Carpenter, however, may have been on patrol until he was put on paid leave on November 8, the day after Abrahamson was finally arrested following an investigation.
We'll let you know when we hear back from the MCSO on our questions.
UPDATE: Van de Streek writes back to tell us that MCSO representatives and West Fargo detectives were in contact within days after the September 16 attack. However, Carpenter wasn't granted immunity or interviewed by the North Dakota detectives until
November 2 sometime after November 2nd, and possibly as late as November 7 (see new update). That's a week before Carpenter went on leave. The public should be informed as to how the MCSO handled the knowledge about Carpenter and Abrahamson.
NEW UPDATE -- 3 p.m.: MCSO officials didn't know Carpenter was in the car with Abrahamson until an interview by MCSO with Carpenter on November 7, says Lisa Allen in an email.
Asked if MCSO knew Carpenter had done something bad, but left him on the streets anyway, Allen writes, "no."
She says we can view the completed internal-investigation report on Carpenter and resignation letter, if any, with a records request, which we've submitted.
We'll give the MCSO the benefit of the doubt on this one, (there's a first for everything.) Any reasonable law-enforcement agency would have put Carpenter on leave once they learned about allegations this serious.
While MCSO internal affairs investigators didn't know about Carpenter's misdeed until November 7, they arguably should have. North Dakota authorities knew about Abrahamson's attack on Swart a few days after it happened, and they knew someone else was in the rented sedan. Plus, the West Fargo police summary report (below) states that Sheriff Arpaio's office served a search warrant to obtain Carpenter's phone records, which were then turned over to West Fargo police on November 1. Carpenter remained on patrol until he was put on leave, Allen confirmed.
Click here to read a summary report of the crime by West Fargo police.