Joe Arpaio, Mike Zullo Targeted Judge, Sergeant Testifies

Sheriff Joe Arpaio suffered another damaging round of testimony Friday in his ongoing contempt trial, as an MCSO detective on the so-called "Seattle investigation" explained how Arpaio and Cold Case Posse honcho Mike Zullo used a confidential informant to target federal Judge G. Murray Snow.

Sergeant Travis Anglin, who worked the case with Zullo and Detective Brian Mackiewicz for the first five months of 2014, depicted an Arpaio focused on getting damaging intelligence on Snow. This, despite the investigation's purported intent to find out if the CIA had "illegally harvested" the personal information of U.S. citizens.

Under questioning by plaintiffs' attorney Michelle Morin, Anglin explained how he first became aware of the investigation involving Seattle CI Dennis Montgomery on December 30, 2013, when his superior, Captain Steve Bailey, introduced him to Zullo at the offices of the MCSO's special investigations division.

Zullo gave Anglin a spiel that the sergeant would hear repeated many times over the next weeks and months, about how Montgomery, an alleged computer whiz and former subcontractor for various government agencies, possessed "hard drives stolen by Montgomery from the CIA."

Anglin said he was wary of Montgomery from the start, especially after he read various articles online depicting Montgomery in a negative light.

However, Zullo expressed confidence in Montgomery. He sent Anglin e-mails from Montgomery and texted Anglin about the CI.

Zullo's texts expressed enthusiasm for going after Snow, who had found the MCSO guilty of racial profiling in May 2013, and in October of that year, ordered the MCSO to abide by several reforms under the watchful eye of a court-appointed monitor.  
Anglin said he saved the texts via screenshots of his phone. In one from late December 2013, Zullo commented on a file he had sent Anglin.

"Received this from OZ just a little while ago," writes Zullo. "He's mapping out cell phone calls and then line calls back to 2009 involving Judge Snow. The stuff looks promising."

"OZ" was Zullo's (highly ironic) codename for Montgomery, Anglin said. 

In another text to Anglin sent at the beginning of January 2014, Zullo mentions that Arpaio "calls me almost every day wanting updates." He tells Anglin that Arpaio wants to meet with them at the Sheriff's Office "tomorrow at 3 pm to go over this phone information."

Anglin said that the January 2014 meeting included Arpaio's attorneys, Tim Casey, John Masterson, and Joe Popolizio, as well as Bailey, Arpaio, Anglin and Zullo, with Montgomery on a speaker phone, calling from Seattle. 
Part of the discussion involved versions of a timeline and a flow chart produced by Montgomery, mentioning Snow several times in reference to a convoluted and non-existent anti-Arpaio conspiracy involving the U.S. Department of Justice, the law firm of Covington and Burling and various other individuals and entities.

The sergeant recalled being the only person at the meeting to ask Montgomery how he came up with the names mentioned in the flow chart's boxes. 

Montgomery gave the assembled his pat tale about the names being from his cache of CIA-harvested information.

"[Montgomery] said a lot," Anglin noted, "but [at the same time] he didn't say much."

Anglin's testimony matched information in portions of his deposition published recently by plaintiffs.

The 18-year veteran of the MCSO described how, at the meeting, Arpaio asked Montgomery, apparently jokingly, why he hadn't been assassinated by the CIA, considering all the data he had taken.

After the meeting, Anglin and Bailey conferred with Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, who had not been at the meeting with Montgomery on the speakerphone.

Anglin showed him the flow chart and provided Sheridan with articles about Montgomery and his "credibility issues." Anglin asked Sheridan if he was being ordered to investigate a federal judge.

Anglin said Sheridan told him that, under no circumstances, was he to investigate Snow or President Obama's birth certificate. 
But Anglin was not told to tell Zullo the same thing. And to Anglin's knowledge, Montgomery never was given an order not to investigate Snow. 

The sergeant described the special relationship Zullo and the sheriff had, how Zullo "had the sheriff's ear" and how Arpaio would take Zullo's advice over his, for instance. 

Zullo and the sheriff spoke "every day or nearly every day" by phone. At one point, Anglin said he was successful in removing Zullo from the Seattle case. He told Zullo he would not be going back to Seattle, then he informed Arpaio and Sheridan about what he'd done. 

Arpaio seemed to accept this, but later, Arpaio allowed Zullo to return to the case.

Anglin said he would travel to Seattle "two or three times per month" sometimes for a week at a time, beginning with his first meeting with Montgomery on January 11, 2014.

He said he would report to Arpaio after every trip and brief him on it "from 30 minutes to an hour."  If Anglin didn't meet with the sheriff in a timely manner after a trip, the sheriff would call him.

Anglin said he would "return with whatever Montgomery produced," such as phone logs, spreadsheets, and phone numbers. Or he would give the sheriff "Montgomery's excuse" as to why no info was forthcoming.

During one briefing, Arpaio asked, "if any information Montgomery produced referred to Judge Snow," a question Arpaio would pose periodically.

But, Anglin said it never did.
"I generally shut those conversations down," Anglin said of the times Arpaio demanded dirt on Snow.

The sheriff saw Anglin at MCSO headquarters once during the period he was working on the Seattle probe. When Arpaio asked what he was doing in Arizona, Anglin told Arpaio he still had a unit of his own to run.

Arpaio told him the Seattle operation "is more important than your unit."

Despite Anglin's making deliveries of cash payments to Montgomery in return for the information provided, the CI seemed in constant need of money. The CI once requested that the MCSO pay his Internet bill. And when Anglin first met him, Montgomery made a pitch for an additional $100,000 so he could build a supercomputer. 

Anglin said the MCSO never gave Montgomery this $100,000. Still, Sheridan has testified that he approved a $50,000 purchase of computer equipment for Montgomery.

According to MCSO records, Montgomery was paid more than $120,000. Sheridan has claimed the entire operation cost $250,000, but sources say the total may be as much as quadruple that amount.

In one meeting with Zullo present, Anglin expressed to the sheriff his concerns about the direction of the investigation, saying the operation "would not pass the headline test." 

Zullo disagreed, and Arpaio ordered Anglin to continue with the case.

Things came to a head in May 2014, when Anglin advised Arpaio to "distance himself from Zullo and Dennis Montgomery."

Arpaio's response?

"He asked who the fuck I thought I was," Anglin said. "He went on to tell me Zullo was a smart man who had `solved' the [Obama] birth certificate case."

On May 21, 2014, Sheridan called Anglin to tell him that "the sheriff no longer wanted me on the case."

But in July 2014, Anglin assisted Mackiewicz with a related project, running down "a sample 40 to 50 names" from Montgomery's list of the "victims" of alleged illegal harvesting of personal bank records in Maricopa County. 

Anglin said most of these people were contacted and much of the info checked out.

However, there was one name not on any list, to Anglin's knowledge: Judge G. Murray Snow.

"[Arpaio] asked who the fuck I thought I was," said Anglin. "He went on to tell me Zullo was a smart man who had `solved' the [Obama] birth certificate case."

tweet this

Anglin said he never saw or heard of Snow's name in relation to the alleged, CIA-ripped-off banking data. Nor was Snow ever contacted by the MCSO.

Yet, Arpaio has testified that Snow was on a list of 150,000 names of victims of identity theft. 

On cross-examination, defense attorney Joe Popolizio did his best to muddy the waters, getting Anglin to concede that he had not examined every one of the "tens of thousands" of names on Montgomery's list of Maricopa County victims.

Given Anglin's profound involvement in the Seattle investigation, it seems unlikely that Anglin never would have heard Snow's name connected to the banking information. That is, if Arpaio's previous testimony was truthful.

Arpaio repeatedly has testified that Snow was one of many local judges on Montgomery's victims list. Though Arpaio could only recall Snow's name, not those of any other judges. And the sheriff conceded that Snow had not been contacted by the MCSO about his status as a supposed victim. 

Judge Snow asked Anglin if Zullo remained behind to discuss birther stuff with Montgomery when Anglin and Mackiewicz left the room up in Seattle.  Anglin said yes.

Popolizio asked Anglin to state what the Seattle investigation was about.

"To determine whether or not the CIA had illegally harvested information from the American public," Anglin said. "And if Dennis Montgomery was in possession of that information."

Which would mean the MCSO was investigating the CIA, according to this line. 

Earlier in his testimony, Anglin spoke of the "free talk" Montgomery had with the Arizona Attorney General's Office under Tom Horne.

In May, I confirmed with the new administration that there had been a meeting with Montgomery at the AG's office on December 11, 2013.

Arpaio himself has testified that he set up two or three such meetings at the AG's office and attended one. The goal, he confirmed, was to get a grant of immunity for his CI from the AG.

Why did Montgomery need immunity?

Because of the concern that Montgomery may have come into the possession of the 50 hard drives illegally.

Since then, experts hired by the MCSO have said the hard drives are worthless and do not contain sensitive information.

Anglin said Montgomery was given deadlines to prove that he had CIA-harvested data. The sergeant got Montgomery an extension on his deadline at one point. But Montgomery never produced, and the offer of immunity apparently lapsed.

Anglin's testimony Friday demonstrated that Arpaio and Sheridan went to great lengths (and depths) to craft a cover story for the Seattle probe, even operating parallel investigations, to hide the tracks of the inquiry into a conspiracy involving Snow.

Others testified Friday. Lieutenant Joe Sousa finished his testimony from the day before, and former internal affairs investigator Sergeant David Tennyson was on the stand at day's end.

The Arpaio contempt trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday, October 13 at 9 a.m.

Update 10/16/2015: The initial version of this article stated that Sheridan had been at the January 2014 meeting, where Montgomery appeared via speakerphone. Actually, Sheridan was not, though he was informed of the meeting shortly after it was over, by Anglin and Bailey. The article has been updated to correct this error.