CIVIL CASE BROADENED TO CIVIL CONTEMPT; COURT-ORDERED INVESTIGATION OF WORK OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 4, 2015) — A source who has been following the developments in Melendres, et al v. Arpaio, et al closely has informed The Post & Email that the source of court documents and information to the Phoenix New Times (PNT), which openly opposes Maricopa County Sheriff and defendant Joseph M. Arpaio, is plaintiffs’ attorney Cecillia Wang.
The Phoenix New Times writes daily about the case, characterizing Arpaio and his associates as criminals. A journalist is expected to take no position on the subject being reported, but rather, present as many angles as possible so that the readers might make their own informed judgments.
Melendres was filed in December 2007 as a civil lawsuit against Arpaio, a number of his deputies, and Maricopa County for allegedly unfairly targeting people of Latino origin during traffic stops and immigration sweeps.
In December 2013, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow ruled that Arpaio’s office had violated the civil and constitutional rights of the plaintiff class and ordered rectification in the form of a court-appointed monitoring team and the cessation of patrols specifically aimed at identifying illegal aliens within the county.
In March of this year, Arpaio admitted through his attorneys to failing to follow Snow’s orders in their entirety, after which Snow ordered hearings on a charge of civil contempt which began the following month.
On April 23, Snow unexpectedly referred to an article from the Phoenix New Times dated June 4, 2014 claiming that Arpaio’s office was investigating the US Department of Justice and Snow in an attempt to show that a conspiracy had taken place to damage Arpaio politically. The article was titled, “Joe Arpaio’s Investigating Federal Judge G. Murray Snow, DOJ, Sources Say, and Using a Seattle Scammer To Do It.”
The “Seattle scammer” referred to confidential informant Dennis Montgomery, who approached Arpaio’s office in November 2013 claiming to have information which might suggest that government entities were communicating about the case.
Wang included a PDF of the article in one of her court filings urging Snow to order the collection of Montgomery’s work product.
Montgomery has been referred to as a “con man” for allegedly claiming to have invented software which could decipher hidden codes in the news ticker at Al-Jazeera which terrorists used as cues to launch attacks in various parts of the world.
In 2006, Montgomery’s apartment was raided by the FBI under what two federal judges deemed later to have been false pretenses and a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. Montgomery’s attorney in a lawsuit filed against New York Times columnist and author James Risen, Larry Klayman, contends that his client “is not a con man.”
Klayman believes that Snow has “targeted” Arpaio in concert with the ACLU and wrote that Snow is “a top candidate for impeachment.”
In late June, Klayman filed a lawsuit against the Melendres ACLU attorneys, claiming that Montgomery had first approached them with the same information imparted to Arpaio in November 2013 concerning government surveillance and that the attorneys failed to disclose that fact to the court.
In August, Montgomery was granted immunity by the FBI after speaking with agents, as stated during a hearing in the case against Risen.
Arpaio, who was on the stand on April 23, testified that Montgomery had been investigating suspected identity fraud and breaches of Maricopa County residents’ bank accounts as well as breaches of the email accounts and/or phone lines of Arpaio, some of his attorneys, and Snow.
In early May, Arpaio’s attorneys questioned Snow’s impartiality in Melendres after Arpaio divulged that in 2011, an Arpaio constituent reported that Snow’s wife had made disparaging comments about Arpaio to her in a restaurant, attributing the sentiments to her husband, Judge Snow. While the media characterized the ensuing probe in which the constituent was questioned by a private investigator hired by Arpaio’s attorney to determine her veracity as an investigation of the judge and/or his family members, Arpaio, his chief deputy, and other members of the MCSO have testified that that was not the case.
Snow did not deny that his wife had made the comments in the restaurant.
Mike Zullo, who Arpaio assigned to oversee Montgomery’s work along with an MCSO detective, was subpoenaed by the plaintiffs’ attorneys in late September for an October 7 deposition date. The attorneys are seeking all documentation from Montgomery’s work in Zullo’s possession. Following the April contempt hearings, Zullo and Arpaio’s office turned over a myriad of work product received from Montgomery, including 50 hard drives containing unspecified information.
It has been suggested but not confirmed that Montgomery harvested data collected by the CIA to reach his conclusions that breaches in email accounts, phone lines and bank accounts occurred.
Atty. Stanley Young of Covington & Burling has taken the lead in issuing subpoenas to Zullo, including a subpoena requiring Zullo’s deposition on Monday filed late Tuesday evening.
Former Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. and one of his former Justice Department deputies, Lanny Breuer, are presently employed at Covington & Burling. The phenomenon in which a significant number of former Justice Department and government functionaries “return” or become employed by Covington has been termed a “revolving door” by at least one legal source.
Wang’s biography states that she “is the Director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and has nearly twenty years of experience as a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer. She is a nationally recognized expert on issues at the intersection of immigration and criminal law, including state anti-immigrant laws, racial profiling and other unlawful police practices relating to immigration enforcement.”
When Snow held up a hard copy of the June 4, 2014 PNT article in court, he did not cite his source.
On October 28, Zullo filed a motion requesting a 30-day extension to retain an attorney after Arpaio’s attorneys, contrary to their previous statements, informed him that they do not represent him. Zullo has withheld a reported 87 exhibits from the court, claiming Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights and has asked Maricopa County to pay for his counsel.
According to the PNT on Wednesday, Snow told Zullo during a telephone court conference on Tuesday that “if you’re going to have a lawyer, you’re going to have to pay for it yourself.”
The taxpayers of Maricopa County have paid out millions for the Snow-appointed monitor, also the choice of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, assigned to Arpaio’s office to ensure that it came into compliance with Snow’s orders. Since May, Snow has been reviewing and approving all invoices received from monitor Robert Warshaw, finding them “reasonable.”
Most of the invoices are in the six figures, as The Post & Email reported in June.
On Tuesday, The Arizona Republic reported that “The monitor appointed by a U.S. District Court judge to make sure that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office complies with court orders is so far over budget for this year that the County Supervisors will vote Wednesday to add $1,275,000 to his contract.”
On Wednesday afternoon, The Post & Email communicated a second time with Maricopa County Public Information Officer Fields Moseley and another county official, Jerry Cobb, to whom Moseley had referred our initial query on Monday as to whether or not the county would assume financial responsibility for Zullo’s counsel. Moseley’s response on Wednesday was, “That is a question for Jerry, but I have not heard yet.”