PHOENIX (CN) - Three of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's former right-hand men claim in court that they were forced out when one of Arpaio's deputy chiefs wrote a memo that falsely accused them of misconduct.
Former Chief Deputy David Hendershott, Deputy Chief Larry Black, and Deputy Joel Fox sued Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, both counties, Investigative Research Inc. and its president Keith Sobraske and secretary Melinda Sobraske, and Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Deputy Chief Frank Munnell, in Maricopa County Court.
The plaintiffs say in their complaint that on Aug. 17, 2010, Deputy Chief Munnell submitted a 63-page memo to Arpaio, asserting "false allegations of criminal misconduct, malfeasance, allegations of obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and even included allegations of sexual misconduct."
They claim that in the memo, Munnell "made many untrue statements that he intended to cause harm to the plaintiffs and that he knew or should have known were false."
The memo includes allegations that Hendershott asked Munnell to donate money to a secret political action committee to fund Arpaio's 2008 political campaign, that Hendershott tried to stop Munnell from complying with state investigators, and that Hendershott, Black and Fox teamed up to manage the PAC, the Sheriff's Command Association.
Before Aug. 17, Munnell "had spent considerable time and energy working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Attorney General office of the State of Arizona as some type of undercover agent, confidential informant, or other position not authorized by his supervisors or by his employment with the MCSO," the plaintiffs say in their complaint.
Munnell "gathered information through the use of unauthorized procedures, illegal procedures, and violations of his oath of office, and by violations of the MCSO Code of Conduct," according to the complaint.
"Defendant Munnell was directed by the AG's office [the Arizona Attorney General's Office] and the FBI as to matters to look into in MCSO and, at the same time, provided the AG's office and FBI with directions as to what witnesses in the MCSO and elsewhere they should interview, what questions to ask, and what information would help them in their investigation," according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs claim Munnell's investigation "involved him secretly tape-recording other commanding officers in MCSO, including the sheriff, in an attempt to support his false accusations."
The plaintiffs claim that Munnell would strike up conversations with people whom he "suspected shared his disloyalty and dislike of one or more of the plaintiffs, and when he got these individuals to agree, even in little parts, defendant Munnell would then later go back to some of these individuals, especially co-employees and others that he had previously recorded, and using the recorded statements content, get them to make what amounted to false statements that were taken out of context."
They claim Munnell was retaliating against Hendershott "due to Hendershott having to discipline Munnell and Munnell's need to be repeatedly counseled for making racial slurs of African Americans and interracial marriage."
The complaint continues: "Further, defendant Munnell resented Hendershott for Hendershott's denial of Munnell's request to claim an industrial injury when Munnell fell off of a police horse in New York City while he was on holiday and intoxicated."