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 What The Heck Is With County Sheriffs? 
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 Post subject: What The Heck Is With County Sheriffs?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:23 pm 
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I have always applauded most of the work being done by the Maricopa County Sheriff's office, but this appears to be totally out-of-control.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/09/22/20100922joe-arpaio-county-to-tap-general-fund-22-ON.html

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Joe Arpaio's office misused up to $64 million, Maricopa County says

Supervisors say they likely have to repay using general fund

Sept. 22, 2010 11:15 AM

The Arizona Republic

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will have to use the general fund to repay as much as $64 million that county officials said Wednesday the Sheriff's Office misused from a fund for jail operations.

The county's Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday unveiled its first evidence of misuse of public funds by the Sheriff's Office, presenting key findings to the board after hundreds of hours of staff research.

Officials reviewed findings involving sheriff's purchasing-cards, the detention fund, cash handling and extradition and travel policies, County Manager David Smith said.

The detailed review of spending by the county found stays in Puerto Rico and Belize charged to county credit cards, and unusual expenditures like first-class airfare upgrades, stays at luxury hotels and $2,215.48 spent at the Disneyworld Yacht Club Resort.

"We have hundreds of dollars spent at resorts, including room service … in what appear to be leisurely activities," said Lee Ann Bohn, a deputy budget director.

The findings mirror those of an Arizona Republic investigation earlier this year into Sheriff's Office credit-card use.

According to some financial records, Bohn said, training trips to Honduras by 10 Sheriff's Office employees in July 2007 and October 2007 cost $91,000 in salaries, overtime, benefits and airfare.

Other major findings by county budget officials substantiated that the Sheriff's Office tapped the jail-operations fund to pay for functions not allowed under jail-fund rules, such as salaries for deputies who worked on public-corruption investigations into county supervisors and judges.

Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson told the board the county gathered business cards left by deputies working Arpaio's corruption task force and discovered they were being paid with detention funds.

County human-resources data, information from a racial-profiling lawsuit and other documents show many Sheriff's Office employees were not working in the same job assignments recorded for them in county records.

Wilson said the Sheriff's Office kept a separate set of personnel books detailing actual work assignments. Those assignments are different than information kept on the county's official human-resources records.

"They actually kept a shadow system," she alleged. Wilson also asserted that the Sheriff's Office annually has spent at least $16 million from the detention fund inappropriately. The problem could stretch back at least four years, she said, and could cost as much as $64 million, possibly more depending on how long the problem existed.

That money comes from a general sales tax approved by voters. Its use is restricted to spending on jail items such as food, detention officers' salaries and equipment

"That means there is a state law, and a voter-protected funding source being violated, and remedies will have to be taken," Smith said. "Is it $60 (million), is it $70 (million) . . . is it more? That is the most serious issue."

Wilson said budget officials needed more records and more cooperation from sheriff's officials to determine the extent of the problem.

Supervisor Andy Kunasek said he believed the Sheriff's Office needed an audit of the fund. The agency over the last year has resisted at least five audits of their books.

Sheriff's officials also were alleged to have misused jail-enhancement funds, backfilling the account using general fund dollars that are less restrictive, Bohn said.

"Should we be getting a freeze exemption approval before processing the (purchase order)?" one Sheriff's e-mail said. "This could be something sensitive that shouldn't go through the county."

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/ ... z10INEAx8G


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 Post subject: Re: What The Heck Is With County Sheriffs?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:30 pm 
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That doesn't sound good.

Arpaio has been, to put it mildly, a controversial figure; folks have been claiming all sorts of illegality for years. To the outside observer, he comes off as AZ's very own version of Bobby Fletcher- a sheriff who in all earnestness believes he knows what's best, and what's right, and the law be damned.

To stretch a point, one could make the argument that this apparent trend is the outgrowth of the far-right/conservative "Posse Comitatus" movement that believes that the highest level of governmental authority is the county sheriff. While I'm not suggesting that either Arpaio or Fletcher are adherents of that movement (or not- I simply don't know), perhaps they've started believing that they are, indeed, the highest authority around.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posse_Comitatus_(organization) for more on the Posse Comitatus movement.

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 Post subject: Re: What The Heck Is With County Sheriffs?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:11 pm 
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Other major findings by county budget officials substantiated that the Sheriff's Office tapped the jail-operations fund to pay for functions not allowed under jail-fund rules, such as salaries for deputies who worked on public-corruption investigations into county supervisors and judges.


Well, I guess we know why county officials balked at how he was using his funds...

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 Post subject: Re: What The Heck Is With County Sheriffs?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:07 pm 
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Arpaio is just Bob Fletcher with fewer rows of teeth.

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