The former No. 2 official in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office is scheduled to testify Thursday about his role in three failed public corruption investigations that are the subject of an attorney discipline hearing against former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
Former Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott ran the day-to-day operations of Arpaio’s office for several years until he resigned in late April after being told he was going to be fired in the coming days.
His termination arose from an investigative report by another police agency that portrayed Hendershott as an administrator who cut corners in criminal investigations and tried to bully colleagues who objected to his orders.
The ethics hearing against Thomas and two of his former assistants is focusing heavily on public corruption case that Thomas and Arpaio’s office brought against two county officials and a judge. All three cases collapsed in court.
Thomas and Arpaio contend that they was trying to root out corruption in county government, while county officials say the investigations were baseless and an abuse of power.
If an ethics panel finds that Thomas violated the professional rules of conduct, he could face a wide range of punishments, including an informal reprimand, censure, suspension or disbarment.
The sheriff wouldn’t face any punishments if Thomas is found to have violated ethical rules. But the investigations by Arpaio and Thomas have been contentious, and the hearing could provide the first official comment from the state’s legal establishment on whether their investigations were trumped up.
Lt. Rich Burden, a former colleague of Hendershott, had told investigators that Hendershott repeatedly ordered him to write a search warrant of the county Board of Supervisors office as part of a probe into a decision by county officials to have their offices swept for possible listening devices.
Burden said he repeatedly told Hendershott that they didn’t have any probable cause for the search warrant and flatly refused to prepare the document and that Hendershot responded by saying he would “machine gun everybody if that search warrant is not on my desk.”
Hendershott told investigators that he disagreed with investigators’ decision not to issue the search warrant and that he would have never said he would “machine gun” anyone.