A Pima County Sheriff's lieutenant is calling for another investigation into the department's public corruption scandal. Joseph Cameron says Sheriff Mark Napier should step aside and let another agency conduct an administrative investigation into the misuse of rico funds. And legal experts weigh in on what the sheriff should do and why.
The two sheriff's unions have united on one thing: Sheriff Napier is falling short on his campaign promise to clean house by holding everyone who crossed ethical lines accountable. Instead, Napier repeatedly told staff and the public after he took over the sheriff's seat that he wanted to move on.
The Pima County Sheriff's unions point to a promise made by Sheriff Mark Napier to the public and community about the misuse of RICO funds that "those county employees whom played a part in this violation of trust would be held accountable."
Lt Joseph Cameron recorded candid conversations with Napier in July. On the recordings, Napier told Cameron that all three of his current chiefs -- Byron Gwaltney, Deanna Johnson and Karl Woolridge -- didn't follow the rules. Napier told Cameron, "They admit to me that. Now whether that's criminal or administratively bad."
Cameron says Napier should have already taken immediate administrative action. "The responsible thing to do is to put everybody involved in this on administrative pay pending the outcome of both investigations. It sends a message to the public and it sends a message to the department that he's being above board, transparent and these chiefs are being treated like everybody else," he said.
Cameron cites a promise stated in Napier's campaign letter to deputies during the FBI investigation. Napier vowed -- if elected -- to "investigate and act upon any incidents of misconduct" and "the sheriff cannot knowingly be aware of such incidents and fail to address them."
Napier appointed all three of his chiefs months after becoming sheriff.
The sheriff told us he will "examine avenues of administrative address" after the AG review, but Cameron says he's concerned over who will actually do the investigation. "Here's the problem. He's talking about doing his own internal investigation. That's not going to -- it's a huge conflict. These chiefs run the agency. Internal Affairs eventually reports up through that chain. Now, currently Internal Affairs answers to Captain Theel who also has his name on documents," he said.
Captain David Theel is the head of the Internal Affairs and we discovered documents that show Theel made requests for expenditures that are impermissible under RICO guidelines back in 2016 -- during the FBI investigation.
Legal experts, such as former Attorney General Forfeiture Assets supervisor Aaron Ludwig, tell me the internal administrative investigation "should be farmed out to an outside agency" and Napier "doesn't have to wait for the outcome of the AG investigation."
Judge Rick Romley wrote: There is a clear "appearance" of conflict." Romley was the former Maricopa County Attorney for nearly two decades -- the prosecutor of the AZScam case in the 1990's, which is the largest public corruption scandal in Arizona.
He wrote: "Internals always are due to an employee's potential misconduct, but they do not "farm" it out just because it is an employee. However, in this case, the people being looked at are high up and may supervise those that conduct the internal. This could be a conflict but if they kept it "inside" the public would never have confidence that it was conducted fairly, even it if was. Depending on who conducts the internal and upon whom, it could be an actual conflict."
Cameron said, "So to be complete impartial and above board, I would ask a large agency with a lot of internal affairs experience and staff to take this thing apart administratively outside of Tucson."
One union had hoped that an auditor general review would have been included with the Attorney General's investigation. Legal experts say that's another option.
The sheriff has told KGUN9 that he won't comment on the RICO case until after the AG probe.
We'll keep you updated on any developments in this ongoing investigation into public corruption.