Arpaio Hearings: Billionaire Alleges Confidential Informant Admitted to Collecting Data on Thousands of Bank Customers, Institutions

ALLEGEDLY AT BIDDING OF U.S. GOVERNMENT

by Sharon Rondeau

Joseph M. Arpaio is the six-term sheriff of Maricopa County, one of the largest law enforcement areas in the country

(Nov. 16, 2015) — Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times (PNT) has uploaded several recordings played during last week’s hearings in Melendres, et al v. Arpaio, et al, specifically while Mike Zullo was on the witness stand.

[Editor’s Note:  Recordings contain profanity; not for children.]

In the recordings, billionaire Tim Blixseth is speaking to Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio in 2012 about the apparent confession of Dennis Montgomery to having collected millions of telephone numbers, among those 153,400 belonging Maricopa County residents, then hacked in to a number of banking institutions’ databases and matching those numbers to the appropriate bank accounts.

Montgomery allegedly told Blixseth that he had been employed as a contractor by the CIA and tasked with conducting the breaches.

Also present during the meeting were Zullo and Det. Brian Mackiewicz, who, along with Sgt. Travis Anglin, were assigned to oversee Montgomery’s work production after Arpaio decided to look into Blixseth’s allegations.

Last week, Zullo invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions in court regarding Montgomery’s work for the MCSO, which spanned approximately a year. However, on Thursday afternoon, Zullo broke his silence and testified that contrary to allegations and outright statements in the news media and accusations from the plaintiffs, the presiding judge in the case, G. Murray Snow, was not a subject of Montgomery’s investigation.

During the initial meeting with Arpaio, Blixseth claimed that Montgomery said he possessed information far outranking that which was revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in June 2013 regarding the collection of phone records of virtually all Americans, whether or not they were suspected of having ties to terrorism.

In Part 1 of the recording Lemons named “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree,” Blixseth alleges that Donald Trump’s name was among those harvested by Montgomery in the endeavor he reportedly undertook at the CIA’s behest. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts and “the FISA court” were also said to have been “hacked.”

Mackiewicz clarified that Roberts’ information was “illegally obtained.”

Under the Patriot Act, the FISA Court was required to approve warrantless wiretapping on an individual before it could be carried out by law enforcement.

Montgomery was alleged to have approached Blixseth to confess to having breached his email account during his 2009 divorce to help Blixseth’s ex-wife.  According to Blixseth, Montgomery said he had a brain aneurysm which had not responded to treatment and that he did not expect to live much longer.

In “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree, Part 2,” Blixseth, Arpaio and Mackiewicz can be discerned opening a computer file allegedly containing harvested data from individuals in Maricopa County.   The four men discussed which statute or constitutional amendment might have been violated if the bank account data was, in fact,  collected.

Blixseth alleged that he was in personal contact with Fox News’s Carl Cameron, who he reported spent “a week” at Montgomery’s home in Washington State filming in anticipation of producing an exclusive story.  Arpaio then accepted Blixseth’s offer to call Cameron’s on his “private line” about the information Blixseth was providing.  Arpaio is heard leaving a message for Cameron.

Arpaio’s commissioning of an investigation into the authenticity of the long-form birth certificate posted on the White House website was a topic during the meeting.  Arpaio is heard speculating that Congress might turn its attention to the findings of forgery which Arpaio and Zullo had announced at two press conferences in 2012 should Blixseth’s allegations prove accurate.

Zullo has fulfilled the role of lead investigator of the Cold Case Posse affiliated with Arpaio’s office in a probe which began in September 2011.

Blixseth said that his ex-wife was involved in criminal activity which had been submitted to a federal grand jury, only to have the indictments allegedly quashed by then-U.S. Attorney General and Department of Justice Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.

“Lanny Breuer is tied up with my ex-wife,” Blixseth alleged, adding that his ex-wife was “in business” with a Democrat campaign manager who called Breuer to say that the publicity about the case was “getting out of hand.”

Holder and Breuer now work for Covington & Burling, where they worked prior to Obama’s having taken office.  Covington & Burling represent the plaintiffs in Melendres, along with the ACLU.

According to Blixseth, Montgomery was seeking immunity from a law enforcement entity in order to expose the information he allegedly possessed and the breadth of the government’s data collection.

At 37:18 in Part 2, Arpaio is heard speculating who he might approach about the alleged bank breaches within Maricopa County.  When the name “John McCain” arose, Arpaio said, “He hates my *** and is behind all this.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in Melendres have alleged that Arpaio, the two detectives and Zullo were engaged in illegal activity with Montgomery, including investigating Snow.

Although several Arizona news outlets covered the hearings, they did not report significantly on the contents of the recordings.