Records of an investigation into alleged misconduct at the Maricopa County sheriff’s office portray an agency where three former top aides to Sheriff Joe Arpaio showed favoritism toward certain employees who were accused of misconduct but weren’t adequately disciplined.
In one instance, the documents released Wednesday allege that one of the former aides, Capt. Joel Fox, had promised to protect a sheriff’s deputy who was accused of giving a 14-year-old boy alcohol on a camping trip and making sexual advances toward him in 1997, before the deputy joined the police agency.
Deputy Anthony Navarra was accused of repeatedly accessing the computer in his police vehicle before and during his administrative leave from the sheriff’s office to look up information on the alleged victim.
Fox told investigators who produced the report that he allowed Navarra to have access to his police vehicle and its onboard computer because he believed the allegations were false. Fox was Navarra’s supervisor.
Court records show that Navarra pleaded guilty in August 2008 to one misdemeanor charge of unauthorized access of criminal history record information and was sentenced to one year of probation.
Fox, who was fired in October, allegedly told Navarra in emails that he felt the allegations were ridiculous and nothing would happen to him.
“Even if he did go on a camping trip with some kid and offer oral sex, that doesn’t make him a child molester, and it was 10 years ago,” the report quotes Fox as telling investigators.
The report was part of an administrative investigation of Arpaio’s office that was prompted by another sheriff’s manager who alleged a range of misconduct. The Pinal County sheriff’s office agreed to handle the investigation.
Federal prosecutors investigating abuse-of-power allegations against the Arpaio’s office have subpoenaed the report. When it was released in May, hundreds of pages were redacted. The remainder became public after The Arizona Republic pressed for the full release in court, and The Associated Press obtained it through a public records request.
Fox didn’t return a call from the AP seeking comment, but his attorney, Ed Moriarity, said, “He didn’t think there was any merit to it (the allegations against Navarra).”
Arpaio, through a spokesman, declined to comment on the allegations against Fox and two other former top aides.
Navarra told investigators in 2008 that he didn’t remember anything about the trip and never denied any of the allegations, saying it could have happened but he just couldn’t recall. Navarra failed a polygraph test, later got a lawyer and invoked his right to remain silent.
Messages left at numbers for Navarra, who no longer works for the sheriff’s office, weren’t immediately returned Wednesday.
David Hendershott, who ran the day-to-day operations at Arpaio’s office for several years, was accused of failing to finalize the internal affairs administrative investigation into Navarra’s conduct. He also was accused of protecting Fox and Navarra during a criminal investigation.
Other allegations in the report say the sheriff’s office had a culture where loyalty was valued above discipline, particularly in the case of Deputy Al Macklin.
Macklin was accused of a range of misconduct, including allegations that he hazed another officer by firing a weapon behind him, took two pornographic movies from a bag of seized property, violated court orders related to child custody and used his police vehicle to stalk his ex-wife.
Macklin was fired in October 2010 for spraying pepper spray at and with other deputies during “horse play” and taking part in target shooting with other officers in an abandoned structure using their personal weapons, all while on duty.
The report said Hendershott and another top Arpaio aide, Larry Black, ordered that an internal investigation of Macklin either not be conducted or not be submitted to the agency’s internal affairs division.
Hendershott, who resigned in late April after being told he was going to be fired, declined to comment on the report. Calls left for Black, who also retired after being told he would be fired, and for Macklin weren’t immediately returned.