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Secret Audio Recordings: Sheriff Napier says AG didn't want PCSD corruption case

Posted at 6:38 PM, Aug 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-06 20:25:16-04

Is the Arizona Attorney General's Office taking the investigation into the Pima County Sheriff's money laundering scandal seriously?  We've learned sheriff Mark Napier has told some staff that the Attorney General didn't want to touch this case.

But is that true?

We have secret audio recordings that capture Napier speaking candidly with a lieutenant about the A-G probe. The audio recordings came from Joseph Cameron, the lieutenant who spoke with Napier a couple of times after the sheriff asked for a state investigation.

Cameron came forward to us because he says he wants **everyone who knowingly misused the RICO funds to be held accountable. And that could include his friends -- former sheriffs Chris Nanos, Clarence Dupnik and former chief deputy Chris Radtke, who all could face **state charges in this money laundering scandal that spanned two decades.

Joseph Cameron is a veteran cop -- 30 years as a law enforcement officer in the Pima County Sheriff's department -- most of his time spent on patrol, but now he's in charge of records. He says he's viewed the same documents we've obtained in the RICO case. Our investigation exposed widespread misuse of the funds within the department.

Cameron says, "What bothers me is the hypocrisy going on. That there are still people here who were involved in it and have knowledge."

Cameron says he felt compelled to speak up so, in July, Cameron pulled Napier aside to talk about the RICO case. "That I wanted to be interviewed by the Attorney General's Office and I wanted a straight up investigation and whichever way it went was fine with me."

Napier told Cameron, who had his cell phone recording in his pocket, the only reason the Attorney General, Mark Brnovich, is looking into the RICO case is because Napier personally asked him to.

Listen to what Napier says next on the audio recording, "They had no intention nor did they have any desire. In fact, they think it's silly. I mean, I look a little bit stupid honestly for even asking them."

Cameron: "He did say that on tape, didn't he. And my response to that is -- I've been around a long time. It makes me wonder how motivated he really is to go forward with this. He told me on tape that he knew his chiefs did not follow the rules."

Napier told Cameron, "They admit to me that. Now whether that's criminal or administratively bad."

Napier's current chiefs are Byron Gwaltney, Deanna Johnson and Karl Woolridge.

Napier said in the audio recording, "A lot of people here did not follow the rules. I'm positive of that. All of my chiefs didn't follow the rules. Many captains didn't follow the rules. That is absolute crystal clear."

What's not clear is whether he pointed that out to the Attorney General.

Napier says in the recordings that the Attorney General asked him why he wanted an investigation if he believed the F-B-I did a thorough job. Napier says, "Then what are you asking us to do? Well, that's a fair question. It is, I mean, the Attorney General looks at me like I'm a 3-headed monkey. Why are you doing this, sheriff? This has been asked and answered, man."

Napier called into the James T. Harris radio show and said he asked the Arizona Sheriff's Association to back him up on the need for a state review.

I reached out to the Attorney General's Office about Napier's statements on the audio recordings and received this response from Mark Brnovich.

"It's well-known that Sheriff Napier, the Arizona Sheriff's Association, and a state lawmaker requested that the Attorney General's Office conduct an independent review. I can assure you that allegations of possible public corruption are always taken seriously and any claim or suggestion otherwise is ludicrous. There's nothing more we can add because this office does not comment on ongoing investigations."

Cavazos: "Do you think the Attorney General's Office is taking this money laundering case seriously?" 

Cameron: "I want to hope so."

Meantime, Cameron says he's bracing for the worst by coming forward with the audio recordings.

Cavazos: "What do you think is going to happen?" 

Cameron: "I believe I'm going to be retaliated against. Cavazos: Do you think you're going to be fired? Cameron: There's a possibility. Yeah, strong possibility. I could be demoted."

I reached out to Sheriff Napier after I received the recording of his conversation with the Attorney General. Napier declined, saying he wouldn't talk until after the investigation.

I offered him the opportunity again on Thursday hours before the story aired. This time he responded with this statement: 

"I believe that we are working toward the same goal, just in different ways.  I have no misgivings about the AG at all and have found him and his investigative team great to work with.  I am following the process and the system.  The Federal Investigation is complete.  It determined a single person was criminally liable.  The only other avenue available to me to determine criminal culpability is the one I am dutifully pursuing; the AG investigation.  That should be resolved before I examine avenues of administrative address.  I think it is not appropriate for me, or others at PCSD, to make statements or speculate as to outcomes while the AG is still conducting its review."

RELATED: New memo surfaces in PC Sheriff's Dept. money laundering case.