RULES SHERIFF’S CONTEMPT “BOTH KNOWING AND INTENTIONAL”
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 13, 2016) — Six months to the day on which testimony on a civil contempt accusation arising from Melendres, et al v. Arpaio, et al, which found Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio had violated the plaintiffs’ civil rights, Judge G. Murray Snow ruled that Arpaio and several of his staff, both former and current, are in contempt of his orders.
Melendres was filed in December 2007 by the ACLU. The plaintiffs are also represented by the law firm of Covington & Burling.
Arpaio has led the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) for five terms and is seeking re-election to a sixth term in November. He previously worked as a federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent in Mexico and overseas.
Over the years, Arpaio has taken a strong stance against the incursion of illegal aliens across the Mexican border to Arizona and other border states.
In December 2011, Snow issued a preliminary injunction against Arpaio’s patrols and neighborhood sweeps which sought to detain illegal aliens in the county. In his ruling on Friday, Snow reiterated that Arpaio had been found to have violated that order prior to the civil contempt hearings.
The 162-page ruling concludes that Arpaio has been held “in civil contempt” on three counts, while his chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, was found in contempt on two counts. Two others, including retired Chief Brian Sands, were included in the first count.
On page 5, Snow wrote:
In his ruling, Snow took the position that Arpaio, Maricopa County Cold Case Posse member Mike Zullo, and Detective Brian Mackiewicz carried out an “investigation” of him in concert with a confidential informant, Dennis Montgomery, whose work for the MCSO began in early 2014 and concluded in April of last year as contempt hearings were under way.
Snow accused Arpaio and his subordinates of failing to conduct internal investigations properly and timely and of withholding evidence produced by Montgomery for the MCSO.
Although Snow indicated that Montgomery’s work was completely discredited by Arpaio’s attorneys and the sheriff himself, Montgomery was granted immunity by the FBI in August of last year in another case as reported by his attorney, Larry Klayman.
Snow cited as problematic the fact that Arpaio has used Klayman as his attorney, although not in Melendres, and that Klayman has also represented Montgomery.
Neither Klayman nor Montgomery was allowed to intervene in the case, as they requested last fall, while the U.S. Department of Justice became an intervenor.
Snow found particularly troubling a graph Montgomery had constructed alleging communications among various parties, including Snow, with the alleged purpose of tapping Arpaio’s phone, breaching email accounts, and harvesting the banking information of tens of thousands Maricopa County residents. Snow termed Montgomery’s work as predicated on a “bogus conspiracy theory.”
Montgomery is a former CIA and NSA contractor whose home was raided by the FBI in 2005, with a federal judge ruling that the raid was unconstitutional in 2006.
Last fall, local media were eager to witness Zullo’s compelled testimony. While Zullo originally invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in light of the fact that he did not have representation, on Thursday, November 12, he decided to answer questions put to him by the plaintiffs’ attorney, Stanley Young.
Following Zullo’s lengthy testimony for the remainder of that about Montgomery’s work, including his contention that Snow was, in fact, a “victim” of illegal government spying, no one in the media sought to interview him.
On November 7, Snow stated during a hearing to the defendants that “the government may choose to prosecute you,” perhaps tipping his hand as to whether or not he would refer the civil case for criminal contempt investigation.
The U.S. Department of Justice has filed suit Arpaio twice since 2010, with both cases appearing to have been ultimately settled out of court.
In an interview following his testimony, Zullo told The Post & Email that Montgomery produced some work product of value.
Snow set a hearing for May 31 at 9:00 a.m. for plaintiffs and defendants to “discuss with the Court the above matters pertaining to relief.” Following the session, Snow wrote that “the Court…will shortly thereafter enter any applicable orders and determine if it will refer any matters for criminal contempt.”
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.