Arpaio to testify at contempt-of-court hearing

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Former Attorney’s Testimony May Be Damaging In Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Contempt Case.

Tim Casey, who was once the head of a legal team tasked with defending Arpaio against racial profiling charges, said today that he dropped Arpaio as a client because the Maricopa County Sheriff couldn’t handle “being told what to do.” Arpaio is presently facing civil contempt-of-court charges in Arizona.Two subpoenas issued by lawyers for the plaintiffs in the federal contempt trial of Arpaio, his chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, and three other current and former MCSO big-shots, signal that Arpaio’s troubles are here to stay. Plaintiffs’ attorneys allege that his deputies continued controversial immigration-enforcement practices even after a federal judge deemed those practices illegal and ordered Arpaio to stop.

Some of attorney Tim Casey’s statements seemed to contradict some of the sheriff’s own testimony and could be used to undermine Arpaio’s claim that he only unintentionally violated court orders in a racial profiling case. One of the subpoenas recently was served on its target, Cold Case Posse commander Mike Zullo, demanding his presence at an October 7 deposition and his testimony during the contempt trial at an undetermined date. Casey testified on Tuesday that he had no less than three conversations explaining the judge’s order to Arpaio. “We’ve got to make sure HSU [human-smuggling unit] understands this right away,” Casey remembers saying. The sheriff defied the order for 18 months, which is a key part of the contempt hearings, and could leave him facing fines or even being called into criminal court. Per the same subpoena, the birther Inspector Clouseau will have to fork over to the plaintiffs e-mails and other written communications, electronic and otherwise, that mention the MCSO or related matters, such as Arpaio’s highly paid confidential informant, Dennis Montgomery.

Snow questioned Sheridan about the 1,500 IDs deputies confiscated during racial profiling traffic stops, further probing if the Sheriff’s department was investigating each incident. During the first two days of hearings, which resume this morning, Sheridan testified that the so-called Seattle investigation, of which Montgomery was at the center, cost taxpayers (at least) $250,000. He’s also admitted authorizing the purchase of $50,000 in computer equipment for Montgomery, and signing off on flight and travel expenses for Zullo and two non-civilian investigators, MCSO Sergeant Travis Anglin and Detective Brian Mackiewicz. He was compelled to testify when Judge Snow ruled the sheriff and others had waived attorney-client privilege on certain topics in the contempt of court case. Snow seemed interested in what Sheridan knew and when about informant Dennis Montgomery’s investigation, and whether the chief deputy’s testimony on the subject in April was accurate.

As for the MCSO’s RICO account, Sheridan affirmed under oath that Special Investigations Captain Steve Bailey once expressed concern that the Seattle probe was costing too much money — and was “exhausting” the agency’s RICO account in the process. Asked about the quote in court, Sheridan would not say that Arpaio dropped an F-bomb, but he admitted that the “sentiment” of the quote was correct. Last April in the first round of contempt hearings, Arpaio invoked “advice of counsel” as a defense for violating the court’s 2011 pre-trial order to stop detaining immigrants just for being in the country illegally. “I didn’t have all the facts of that order,” Arpaio testified in April. “I delegated that to my counsel and relied on them to abide by this order.” Casey’s billing records indicate he discussed the order with sheriff and command staff the day the order came out and followed up on many occasions. After the Sheriff’s office issued a press release stating he expected ICE would start refusing to take the immigrants he had detained, he implemented a “back up” plan where he took them straight to the border.

He said he explained to the sheriff’s staff that under the order, they could only either arrest immigrants on state criminal charges, or release them if there were no state criminal violations. Casey testified he explained that meant the sheriff’s office had to abandon a third option of detaining immigrants and transporting them to federal agents for deportation. Which brings us to another subpoena recently issued by the plaintiffs, ordering that the phone/Internet provider Level 3 Communications turn over phone and fax information for an address in Bellevue, Washington once owned by Dennis Montgomery. Sheridan confirmed to Wang that Arpaio uses a manual typewriter, like the one used for the second page of the document and that the handwriting at the top of that page resembles Arpaio’s. But documents apparently produced by Montgomery, such as the timeline mentioned above and a flow chart of the conspiracy, have been published in the court record.

Sheridan said when he saw that document he “probably said a bad word.” He testified that he said at the time, “I have never seen this document before, this is not good.” “That afternoon I asked you about Montgomery you didn’t mention seeing this document did you?” Snow asked. “You did testify that you hadn’t seen anything that would suggest I was…involved,” Snow said. Casey said the sheriff seemed to believe he had the authority to continue using the tactic and argued that other law enforcement agencies were doing the same. Ditto an investigation of Judge Snow’s wife – for allegedly telling an acquaintance back in 2012 that Snow despised Arpaio and wanted him out of office. And the plaintiffs’ detailed examination of how the MCSO handles, or better said, mishandles internal affairs cases, could lead to enhanced power for the court-appointed monitor over the MCSO, Robert Warshaw. Plaintiffs’ lawyer Cecillia Wang of the American Civil Liberties Union said the lawyer’s account undermines the sheriff’s defense that the violations were accidental.

For example, Sheridan admitted under questioning that he never ordered that a criminal IA be opened into the cache of drugs discovered at the residence of former Deputy Ramon “Charley” Armendariz. In fact, according to Sheridan, just one major case of discipline came out of the Armendariz affair, and the chief deputy on the receiving end was promoted to “executive chief,” while an administrative IA (as opposed to a criminal one) still was under way. Plaintiffs’ counsel are going to put everyone they can on the stand: Casey, the IA investigators, Zullo, Mackiewicz, and of course, Arpaio, who likely will testify Wednesday. He said two MCSO employees in Seattle joined the meeting via conference call and said Montmery was offering to investigate collusion against the sheriff by Snow, the Department of Justice and the plaintiffs’ law firm, Covington & Burling. “One or both of the fellows on the phone were reporting that there was this collusion that had an adverse effect on Arpaio, and it could be proven if MCSO would go forward with this guy’s services,” Casey testified.

A better option would be the appointment by Snow of a special prosecutor, which is possible under the law, so Arpaio and his lackeys could be hit with the criminal punishment they deserve.

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