An internal audit has determined that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office violated the county’s procurement procedures by agreeing to purchase a $465,000 bus to transport inmates.
The custom-made bus was purchased in October 2008 with the sheriff’s jail-enhancement funds, a revenue stream built from fines, penalties and forfeitures. But it has sat idle ever since it was delivered in May because of ongoing disputes between Sheriff Joe Arpaio and county administrators.
Sheriff’s officials claim county management is withholding authorization of the bus as retribution for his investigations into county elected officials and administrators. County officials have said the sheriff’s decision to purchase the vehicle was an intentional effort to work around a county freeze on capital purchases.
The audit concludes that the Sheriff’s Office circumvented county policies, did not ensure the purchase price was from the lowest bidder and that the sheriff’s process did not include controls to protect public funds.