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De Facto Arpaio

Former Deputy Chief Brian Sands of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has written a memoir titled “Arpaio De Facto Lawman” detailing his experiences with Sheriff Arpaio and the office. Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times has an article on it. Fine Stephen, but we already know that Sheriff Joe is a narcissist. Tell us about the birthers!

For that, you will have to buy the book, and you will not be disappointed. The birthers get their own short chapter (7) titled, duh, “Birthers.” It mentions “probable cause,” a concept Sheriff Arpaio was not too fluent in. Sands puts it this way in terms of the Obama birth certificate investigation:

Arpaio’s perspective is I want to be involved, so let’s figure out how to establish an excuse for the reasonable test.

One of the questions surrounding the Cold Case Posse investigation was: just who was the Cold Case Posse. Sands answers this by saying:

At first, Zullo had several other Posse people “working” on the case, two of whom were civil private practice attorneys. The attorneys, for whatever reasons, distanced themselves. Now it was primarily Zullo and the newly-recruited [Brian] Reilly.

Enter Jerome Corsi, who was given office space by Arpaio. The Hawaii trip is discussed. When Deputy Chief Sands questioned Zullo about what evidence he had that would lead to a probable indictment, Zullo said nothing.

Sands does not take a firm stand about where Obama was born, but he maintains skepticism about Arpaio and the CCP investigation and makes this reasonable statement:

When the State of Hawaii came out and officially said that Obama was born in the State and denied Arpaio’s claims of not maintaining secure records[, y]ou would think nothing more could be investigated.

Of additional interest, Sands confirms Brian Reilly’s story on some detail points, some up until now, unpublished.

Update: A comment from Brian Reilly

Having just completed reading chapter 7, entitled “Birthers,” I have a few comments to make about former Chief Deputy Sand’s new Kindle book on Amazon.

Sands wrote that Arpaio asked us as Tea Party members to do a petition requesting the birth certificate investigation, and we were to bring the petition back to Arpaio. This was not an accurate statement. When we first met with Arpaio on August 18, 2011, we presented him with a petition with 242 signatures that we gathered the previous night on August 17, 2011. The petition idea was mine and mine alone. Arpaio knew nothing about the petition idea until it was presented to him at the August 18 meeting. At the August 18, meeting, Arpaio asked us to write a formal letter requesting an investigation of the Obama birth certificate and he said “put me in a box” and told me to come back to give all of our evidence and the petition and the letter to him on August 22, 2011, which I did alone.

Additionally, Chief Deputy Sands confirmed that I was unhappy with the conduct of the Zullo birth certificate investigation. (I was not impressed at the time with the biased way in which the investigation was being conducted along with other issues related to liability and I resigned from the Cold Case Posse. )

Chief Deputy Sands also confirmed that no taxpayer dollars were to be used in the investigation, and in fact tax dollars were used.

Sands also confirmed that Zullo had a few years of law enforcement, not the “decades” of law enforcement experience that Carl Gallups has advertised on his Freedom Friday radio show.

Of special note was what Sands related about Zullo’s lack of evidence regarding the birth certificate investigation. Very telling indeed.

I was very impressed with Chief Deputy Sands when I met him on August 18, 2011 when I was a Tea Party member and also when I was a Cold Case Posse member. Chief Sands was the only one to question whether the Jerry Corsi provided “witnesses” were actually considered “experts” and whether they had ever testified in court as experts. As a Cold Case Posse member, I can honestly say, I respected Chief Sands and his “by the book” approach to police work.

And one final note, Sands confirmed that Zullo and I were the only Cold Case Posse members who were actively involved in the investigation.

Other critical books about Joe Arpaio:

RC Radio interview with Stephen Lemons

I’m so excited!

Since Mike Zullo hasn’t fled the country yet, I’ll have to settle for second best: Reality Check Radio’s special show Wednesday, June 11 at 9 PM. RC’s guest will be award-winning journalist Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times, who broke the story of Joe Arpaio’s relationship with Seattle scammer Dennis Montgomery.

From RC Radio:

Stephen Lemons who writes for the Phoenix New Times at the Valley Fever Blog will be my guest. Stephen will discuss his recent expose into the dealings between Sheriff Joe Arpaio and scammer Dennis Montgomery. Stephen learned that Arpaio is using Montgomery to find dirt on US Attorney General Eric Holder and Federal Judge Murray Snow both of whom have been a thorn in [Arpaio’s] side of late. Could this be the “Universe Shattering” news that Carl Gallups and Mike Zullo have been promising for months?

Listen:

Find Additional Politics Podcasts with RCRadio on BlogTalkRadio

The frenzy of discovery

It’s always helpful in the frenzy of discovery when nearing a solution to a complicated puzzle, to take a step back for a reality check. Case in point is the identification of what Sheriff Joe and his Posse have been incessantly promising Universe-shattering results about. Recent revelations in the Phoenix New Times that Arpaio has paid big bucks to a notorious scam artist for information about US Federal District Judge G. Murray Snow and US Attorney General Eric holder provide an emotionally satisfying answer: Arpaio and his Posse are credulous fools. In this moment of excitement where all of the pieces seem to line up it’s worth considering whether we are fooling ourselves and to ask a few questions:

  • Does any part of the story require unusual complexity or implausibility?
  • Has confirmation bias caused contrary evidence to be pushed aside?
  • Are the sources credible?
  • Is there a plausible alternative narrative?

I can’t answer these questions for you, as they involve trust and value judgments, but I will attempt to answer them for myself.

I think the story is plausible because the actors in the alleged narrative do things that they have done in the past. Sheriff Joe has gone after political enemies with bogus investigations, and he has bought into conspiracy theories. Dennis Montgomery has scammed people and used their technological ignorance to his advantage. He has fabricated evidence before in the form of altered emails, according to expert court testimony. There are plausible mechanisms for the two to connect up because Sheriff Joe’s Obama investigation is widely reported in the national press. Also another Cold Case Posse source, Doug Vogt, lives close to Montgomery. The nearest thing to implausibility in the story is the amount of money, $200,000, allegedly spent by the Sheriff’s Office on Montgomery’s information. That’s a lot of money and it allegedly come from a secret fund—one should always be wary of secret boxes where the best evidence is. Still, given the power of Arpaio, I can sort of buy the $200,000. Montgomery got $20 million from the US government for fake information.

One contrary item is that Cold Case Posse insider Brian Reilly had never heard of Dennis Montgomery. However, the Universe-shattering investigation allegedly involving Montgomery didn’t start until after Reilly had left the Posse. Nothing else comes to mind.

I tend to trust the Phoenix New Times. What is my source? Most of what I know about the New Times comes from the New Times. That’s problematic. The bulk of their information comes from an anonymous source.  They portray themselves as journalists with integrity battling the evil empire of Joe Arpaio. In their favor, they won a $3.5 million settlement against the Sheriff’s Office. Indeed the County has lost $55 million in payouts for false arrest and prosecution charges against the Sheriff’s Office and the Prosecutor. The story’s author, Stephen Lemons has won a string of journalism awards. I do not have wide experience with stories in the New Times and whether they are always reliable. There is one thing strongly in favor of the credibility of the story which is the account of both Arpaio and Montgomery refusing to deny their relationship, which it would have been trivially easy to do so. I would say that if the story is baseless, the New Times runs the risk of getting sued (or arrested?).

There are any number of alternate scenarios:

  1. The New Times made it all up out of spite.
  2. The New Times’ informant made it all up out of spite.
  3. Montgomery really has used his technical skills to uncover damning evidence against Eric Holder and Judge Snow, and is providing it to Arpaio. Indictments to follow.

None of those seems likely, with #2 the only one remotely plausible.

I invite readers to suggest things I overlooked, or to weigh in with their own evaluations, and other questions that need to be asked.

Sheriff Joe’s universe may be shattering

It sucks to be Joe Arpaio this week.

imageFirst there is the Phoenix New Times story today (BANG!) by award-wining journalist Stephen Lemons, that opens up a big can of worms. It begins with some behind-the-scenes comments from Joe Arpaio suggesting that the birther investigation was motivated by fundraising, citing footage from a new film about Arpaio, The Joe Show, The New Times writes:

The most revealing part of Phoenix filmmaker Randy Murray’s recent documentary The Joe Show was a strategy meeting during Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s 2012 re-election campaign that included Arpaio, his top flack, Lisa Allen, Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, and campaign manager Chad Willems.

The group huddled in the back of a Fountain Hills restaurant to discuss how to spin Joe’s negatives — the misspending of more than $100 million, the deaths in the jails, the scores of millions in lawsuit payouts — for the public.

At some point, Arpaio’s “birther” investigation came up.  …

At the mere mention of the birther investigation and the future press event, Allen and Willems practically rolled their eyes.

Willems called the birther probe “nuts.”

Allen said the sheriff might as well go the press conference “in big ol’ clown shoes.”
Arpaio shrugged, literally.

“There ain’t gonna be no damage control,” Arpaio promised Willems. “You’ll get more money [in campaign contributions] than you’ll know what to do with.”

imageIt gets worse on that topic (read the New Times article), but we then are given some idea what the Universe-shattering investigation is all about. The Sheriff’s Office confirmed some kind of investigation was in the works, but not about the birth certificate. Informants tell the New Times that the investigation is about Eric Holder and federal judge G. Murray Snow, the one who is overseeing enforcement as a result of a lawsuit proving pervasive racial profiling within Arpaio’s Department. And then there is the Seattle scammer. Sources say that $100,000 has been paid to notorious con man Dennis Montgomery. When asked, both Arpaio and Montgomery declined to deny that they were working together.  You just have to read the thing to believe it.

Next there is the sad story of Maricopa County deputy Ramon Armendariz who appeared to be shaking down undocumented aliens.  He apparently committed suicide by hanging and cannot be questioned as to how widespread the misconduct was within the department, but perhaps these facts have a very different interpretation. Further, 900 hours of videos of traffic stops that were supposed to be turned over to the Court were found in his house. This story was widely reported by the national press. It certainly leaves a lot of questions and I’ll be interested to see how the story plays out.

And if that weren’t enough, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision on Monday, awarding $975,000 to former Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox in a lawsuit against Arpaio and other county officials for false arrest and prosecution, bringing the total to over $12 million for those cases.

Finally an investigation has uncovered evidence suggesting that Maricopa County Sheriffs Office personnel and equipment were involved in the production of Jerome Corsi and Mike Zullo’s for-profit eBook, A Question of Law Eligibility: A Law Enforcement Investigation into Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate and his Eligibility to be President. The book, copyrighted by Jerome Corsi and Mike Zullo drew initial criticism as some dollars rolled in to Mike Zullo for what many think should have been the property of the non-profit Cold Case Posse not for Zullo’s personal use. Zullo sidestepped that issue by claiming he gave the money to his church. Now the question is more difficult with County resources involved. This topic led me to review that book, and in the light of what we know now about the Obama birth certificate PDF file, it looks pretty bad. For details on this investigation, check out “MCSO Public Information Officer Brian Lee Helped Write ‘A Question of Eligibility’ eBook” at the RC Radio Blog.

Read more:

Arpaio mail bomber charged

According to Arpaio, death threats are part of his job. When a suspicious package addressed to Arpaio was discovered at a mail facility leaking what was identified as explosives, Arpaio said is was probably the Mexican drug cartels. (See my article last April.)

Well, thanks to our friends at the FBI, a suspect has been arrested and charged in the incident. Was he charged with attempted murder? Well no, because the bomb wasn’t actually wired to explode.

The prevailing theory is that Gregory Lynn Shrader mailed the package to Arpaio in order to get someone else in trouble (whose name was on the return address) because of past dispute.

I used to get evacuated for bomb threats all the time—the building where I worked housed a bank, the FBI, the Secret Service, the IRS and two radio stations. :shock:

Read more on this story at the Phoenix New Times. And read even more about Sheriff Arpaio at the New Times.

Sheriff Joe’s close call

The records indicate that FBI agents found probable cause to recommend felony counts of obstructing criminal investigations of prosecutions, theft by threats, tampering with witnesses, perjury and theft by extortion.

USA Today

The Arizona Republic newspaper web site broke the story after they obtained pages of heavily redacted material from the FBI relating to the criminal investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation was closed in 2012 after federal prosecutors said that they didn’t have a guaranteed win, going against FBI investigator recommendations to file charges against at least 2 individuals.

I wasn’t going to cover the story because it talks about unproven allegations, but I see it’s getting some traction, and belongs in the record. As Perry Mason would say, “it goes to credibility, Your Honor.”