Sheriff Joe May Finally Get Nailed

Most everyone knows that Al Capone was finally nailed for tax evasion, rather than murder, robber, extortion and all the more heinous crimes for which he was mostly likely guilty.  For years, an unfortunately relatively small group of us here in Phoenix have tried to see Sheriff Joe Arpaio brought to justice, or at least removed from office, .   Lacking the success so far, Arpaio may finally go down for fraud in his management of County funds.

In something that should be a surprise to no one, even his supporters, the supremely arrogant Arpaio did not like state law and the county supervisors rules on where he could spend different parts of his budget.  So it appears he created a shadow payroll system that has only just been discovered that has been paying different people different amounts for different purposes than what shows up in the official County payroll systems, and has been doing so for over a decade.

Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson and her staff in the Office of Management and Budget for months have worked to figure out how extensive financial problems are, and she expressed shock at the hidden system.

"They've developed a system that basically tracks where they are working versus where they are being paid, and they did not update the official database, which led to the potential problems," Wilson said. "I think they deliberately hid this info from us."

The employee-tracking database was in a secure criminal-justice computer system accessible only to the Sheriff's Office. Control of access to that system, known as ICJIS, has been the subject of a long-running and expensive legal battle during the past two years.

County administrators say they were puzzled by the sheriff's willingness to sue over what they viewed as minor issues related to control of the ICJIS system. The fight by the sheriff to block county access to the system has cost more than $1.6 million.

County officials believe Sheriff's Chief Deputy David Hendershott sought to limit access to the system to hide the shadow payroll records it contained. Those records showed that potentially hundreds of employees who did no work in the jails were being paid with detention funds.

"That's a reasonable conclusion to draw, but we don't know for sure," Irvine said. "From Maricopa County's perspective, the ICJIS dispute and lawsuit has made no sense."

County officials sent information on the payroll system to the U.S. Attorney's Office for review. That office is conducting a separate abuse-of-power probe of Sheriff Arpaio, his employees and others.

The article fails to mention it, but I believe that the county computer facility mentioned above was the same one that Arpaio sent armed deputies storming in to take over about a year ago.  At the time, no one really bought his explanation that it was about protecting sensitive criminal information from prying eyes.  I hypothesized it was to take control of an email server that had incriminating information about Arpaio, but now it turns out it may have been to protect his shadow payroll system.


  1. Patrick:

    Ms. Wilson would be well advised to have her car inspected. And her spouse/significant other/child/grandmother's too.

    And to put bars over the rear taillights. And to drive only in well-lit areas with lots of traffic, preferably pedestrian.

  2. Che is dead:

    "... which led to the potential problems ... we don’t know for sure ... I believe ... I hypothesized ..."

    The only fraud be committed here is by Arpaio's hyper-partisan accusers who have been misusing public funds to pursue their political opponents under the guise of defending the public interest. Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent pursuing bogus charges against Arpaio. So far, the whiners have got absolutely nothing. I doubt very much that you could withstand the same intense scrutiny. If this abuse of taxpayer dollars again proves futile, then it will be time to start slapping-the-cuffs on Arpaio's low life accusers.

  3. Andrew:

    Che, thank you, I actually laughed out loud reading that. :-D

  4. JC:

    So far, I agree with 'Che is dead'.

    The money may be misappropriated, but it was spent to support "patrol, human-smuggling operations and investigative units". If that's the only rope they can find to hang this guy with, then it's pretty pathetic. It's looking as if this has become a politically personal vendetta to find something to nail Arpaio. Makes me wonder which interest would benefit if Arpaio was gone.

  5. Daublin:

    This is a lot more than tax evasion. The public has lost its oversight and even knowledge over where its money is going.

  6. mahtso:

    "The public has lost its oversight and even knowledge over where its money is going."

    The linked article makes clear that the County Board of Supervisors has failed to do its job in this regard. My belief is that the press has given the Board almost a free pass because of the press’s bias against the Sheriff (and the former County Attorney).

    As an example that I have given before: a Republic columnist wrote that the Board was paying attorneys $400 per hour to attend meetings where construction issues were discussed (total expense over $1 million), whereas it appeared that engineers or architects would have been better suited to attend. (One of those attorneys is Mr. Irvine who is quoted in the linked article.)
    In my opinion, had the Republic not been biased against the Sheriff and the former County Attorney, this would have been big news.

    As I have also written before: maybe the Sheriff is guilty of crimes (after all, the feds have been investigating him for over two years, so he must have done something wrong.) But it will take a lot more than allegations in the newspaper or a blog to prove that he is guilty.

  7. John O.:

    Corruption of any type is inexcusable no matter what "benefit" it was being applied to. Seriously, this is public corruption. I don't care if it was for something that somebody might think is a good idea or not as ANY defense of even minor corruption only sustains and reinforces that behavior. I repeat, corruption is not excusable.

    -- John O.

  8. Nick S.:

    "...after all, the feds have been investigating him for over two years, so he must have done something wrong."

    That's some bad logic there. Very bad.

  9. mahtso:

    “…after all, the feds have been investigating him for over two years, so he must have done something wrong.”

    That’s some bad logic there. Very bad."

    Actually, it was sarcasm.

  10. Ted Rado:

    Joe Arpaio is a predictable result of the Feds not doing their job. If we had competent, non-political enforcement of the law, this sort of situation would not happen. To suggest that only those laws will be enforced that the current administration (of either party) feels is is politically advantageous to enforce is a great route to complete breakdown of the law. If some politician feels that illegal immigrants should be freely allowed in, they should have he guts to pass a law that says so.