Monday, September 25, 2023
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Tangled Explanation|From Aide to Arpaio

PHOENIX (CN) - A confidential informant gave a flowchart to a federal judge in Washington, D.C., that claimed the judge overseeing Sheriff Joe Arpaio's contempt-of-court hearing conspired with the Justice Department to wiretap Arpaio, an investigator testified Friday.

Mike Zullo, an investigator in Arpaio's Cold Case Posse, told the court during the last day of testimony that he made three visits to U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington to have Lamberth review information that Dennis Montgomery, a former CIA consultant, was providing to Arpaio's office.

Montgomery claimed that the federal government had illegally accessed the bank and IRS records of about 150,000 Maricopa County residents. Judge Lamberth formerly served on the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

"Mr. Montgomery brought information with him," Zullo said. "I seem to recall the flowchart being handed to [Lamberth], I don't remember anything else."

The flowchart alleges that U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow directed a wiretap on Arpaio's phone, and connects the judge with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Covington & Burling law firm, which represents the plaintiffs in a 2007 racial profiling class action against Arpaio.

Judge Snow is overseeing the civil contempt hearing in which Arpaio and four of his current and former aides are accused of violating a court order in that class action.

"Do you see in the upper right-hand corner there's a reference to a DOJ wiretap?" asked plaintiffs' attorney Stanley Young, with Covington & Burling. "It says under there in yellow font, 'G. Murray Snow Orders.' Did you discuss that aspect of this flowchart with Lamberth?"

Zullo denied talking about the wiretap with Lamberth. He said Montgomery handed the flowchart to the judge because he sought whistleblower protection status from the federal government.

"I think we advised the judge none of this had been corroborated by us," Zullo said. Detective Brian Mankiewicz also attended the meetings with Lamberth.

Zullo testified Friday that he and Montgomery searched the bank records that Montgomery retrieved of Mary Rose Wilcox, a former member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Wilcox was granted a $975,000 settlement after she sued Arpaio and then-County Attorney Andrew Thomas in 2011, claiming they had her indicted twice for "participating in decisions of the Board of Supervisors when she had a conflict of interest." Those charges were dismissed. Thomas was disbarred in 2012.

While Wilcox's bank information was not found, her husband Earl appeared in the list of Maricopa County residents and they were also able to find bank information on their restaurant, El Portal, Zullo said.

"When you found Mary Rose Wilcox's restaurant's name, did you mention this to Sheriff Arpaio?" Young asked.

"His reaction was the same as with this judge, it was 'He's a victim,'" Zullo said. "As far as Mary Rose not coming up, I explained to him that I was actually relieved she did not come up."

Snow has scheduled the parties' oral arguments for Friday, Nov. 20. Arpaio and his aides face fines, sanctions and possible criminal charges if found to be in contempt.

Snow indicated that if he does refer any of the five to Arizona U.S. Attorney John Leonardo for criminal prosecution, he may include names of additional parties.

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