Pima County Sheriff Personnel Shuffle Questions Persist

Pima County Sheriff's website invites public to "Ask Us Anything," but makes no promises about answers.

With the percentage of payroll costs in Pima County at over 45 percent compared to Maricopa County’s at slightly above 43 percent, and Pima County deputies among the lowest paid in the state, questions persist as to where exactly the money is going. County residents would have had a harder time getting answers to those questions if an item related to who is – and who is not – covered by the County’s Employee Merit System had remained on the September 15, Board of Supervisors’ agenda.

That item (view here) was pulled by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry (view here) because “Human Resources has received varying opinions from affected parties.” According to Huckelberry, “the intent of the item was to revise Pima County Code, Chapter 2.24.070 to meet the legislative changes in Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 11-352. According to sources, the actual intent was to “high ranking staff taking care of and protecting themselves.”

High ranking staff moving to protecting themselves is nothing new to Pima County. The Sheriff’s Office has perfected that skill and last week, the final pieces were put into place by newly appointed Sheriff Chris Nanos.

Brad Gagnepain, former chief, retired and rehired as Executive Advisor has now been promoted to “Chief of Staff,” a position that has never existed before. In that position, Gagnepain will oversee Community Resources and Internal Affairs.

The irony of Gagnepain, described as obsessively vindictive, overseeing Internal Affairs is not lost on County residents, who know him best for his own lack of ethics. According to the Tucson Citizen, in 1992 “former sheriff’s Maj. Dennis Douglas and Capt. Brad Gagnepain stole campaign signs belonging to Dupnik’s primary opponents. Both men admitted to the theft and it cost them each five-day suspensions without pay. A Justice Court judge later dismissed the misdemeanor charges against them.”

Gagnepain, a double dipper was granted “reserve deputy status” in an attempt to “give him some type of legitimacy,” in his new role.

In that role, he will supervise the son of newly appointed Chief Deputy Christopher Radtke. The younger Radtke moved to his new job in Community Resources, and out of the departments under his father’s control in order to avoid pesky charges of nepotism. According to sources, the younger Radtke took a small decrease in pay, but the new position comes with its own perks.

As for his father, questions remain as to what and how he and Nanos have manipulated through the system to secure his top spot position. According to an email response from Radtke to the ADI on August 11, 2015: “Chief Chris Radtke current salary is $142,894.37. Effective Sept 6 promoted to Chief Deputy Salary of $164,840.00 (same as former Chief Deputy Nanos).” On August 12, in response to his email, the ADI asked why he was allowed to get out of the “drop?”(sic). Radtke did not respond. Last week, the ADI asked again, and added whether he could “confirm for us that you retired within the last month and have been re-appointed as Chief Deputy?” We have received no response to those inquiries.

Records show (view here) that on the Pima County Public Safety Personnel Retirement Board met on Wednesday, September 2, to consider agenda item #4: “Application for Termination and Retirement from the DROP for Christopher Radtke with an effective date of 10/01/15.”

Attorneys Carol V. Calhoun and Arthur Tepfer write on the Employee Benefits and Legal Resource Site: “In its simplest terms, a DROP plan is an arrangement under which an employee who would otherwise be entitled to retire and receive benefits under an employer’s defined benefit retirement plan instead continues working. However, instead of having the continued compensation and additional years of service taken into account for purposes of the defined benefit plan formula, the employee has a sum of money credited during each year of the continued employment to a separate account under the employer’s retirement plan. The account earns interest (either at a rate stated in the plan, or based on the earnings of the trust underlying the retirement plan). The account is paid to the employee, in addition to whatever benefit the employee has acquired under the defined benefit plan based on earlier years of service, when the employee eventually retires.”

Sources report that rarely, if ever, does an employee get out of the DROP.

According to the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System’s Frequently Asked Questions page Arizona statute A.R.S. 38-849(E-J, M):

Prohibits an “employee from actively pursue reemployment opportunities with, or obtain reemployment assurances from the same employer they are retiring from, prior to retirement. There must be a bona fide separation of service in order to be in compliance with statutes and IRS Code. US Tax Courts have consistently interpreted IRS Code’s definition of “separation of service” as a severance of an employee’s connection and employment relationship with their employer. In order for a severance to occur, there cannot be a pre-existing agreement intent to resume employment at a later date.”

“In order to be able to return to work “in any capacity” with your same employer, you must be retired for one (1) year, UNLESS you are hired as a result of participating in an open competitive new hire process for an entry level nonsupervisory position, or hired as a fire inspector, or arson investigator. If you are hired as a result of participating in an open competitive new hire process for an entry level nonsupervisory position, or hired as a fire inspector or arson investigator, then the sixty (60) day rule applies. Your local retirement board must determine your eligibility to return to work. Your local board and employer are responsible for informing PSPRS within ten (10) days of your re-employment date, and must submit to PSPRS the minutes of the local board meeting in which the return to work determination was made, copies of your old and new job descriptions, and an affidavit signed by you and by the employer, stating that there was no “pre-existing” agreement for you to return to work at the time you retired. Form 16, Return to Work Acknowledgement, will serve as the retiree’s affidavit for members retiring effective August 2012 and going forward. Failure to follow the return to work statutes 38-849, informing PSPRS within ten (10) days of the re-employment, and failure to provide the required documentation will result in suspension of your retirement pension.”

Because Radtke refuses to answer questions, it is unclear as to whether 1) he did in fact retire, 2) was successful in removing himself from the DROP, and 3) if he did retire, how was he hired back in less than a year after his retirement.

Most assuredly the Office will respond with answers in the near future. Until then, Department morale continues to plunge as employees witness others reap the benefits of family ties either though the management of cafeteria operations, or the Office’s internet presence.

Nanos’ leadership team is referred to as the “Clan of Five” by employees, who are unhappy with the “continued abuse of power by a small group of people.” They say leadership’s decision to “take care of themselves first,” will “undermine the professionalism of the Department” because “the Sheriff and his leadership display this kind of unethical and self-serving behavior.”

One employee said the final outcome will be employees who “eventually lower their level of professionalism as the standard set by the leadership erodes.”

Related articles:

Pima County Sheriff’s Drastic Double Dipping

Emails Reveal Absentee Pima County Sheriff

Pima County Spins Its Politically Correct Environmental Programs

Pima County Needs to Rethink its Priorities

Pima County Bond Election – Proposition 430

Pima County Board Of Supervisors Lack Discipline

Pissing and Moaning Won’t Solve Pima County’s Problems

Pima County Prop 415 consultants, strategists win big

21 Comments

  1. Why should anyone be surprised by this. The arrogance of this group of self involved individuals is unsurpassed. Hardly anyone in the department had seen Nanos until about 14 months ago, when he was anointed by the group of 6 people that have run the department for the last 10 years. None of the 6 would be recognizable to the troops, the same troops they profess to care about. The lack of leadership is appalling and there for all to see. Nanos was supposed to attend the majority of trading sessions for deputies this fall, that lasted for about three sessions. See they don’t have to answer to anyone for their actions or lack there of. He wants endorsements that aren’t coming from the unions. A Green Party candidate would be welcome at this point…

  2. Perhaps someone should notify the IRS they pay rewards.

    Prohibits an “employee from actively pursue reemployment opportunities with, or obtain reemployment assurances from the same employer they are retiring from, prior to retirement. There must be a bona fide separation of service in order to be in compliance with statutes and IRS Code. US Tax Courts have consistently interpreted IRS Code’s definition of “separation of service” as a severance of an employee’s connection and employment relationship with their employer. In order for a severance to occur, there cannot be a pre-existing agreement intent to resume employment at a later date.”

  3. Is morale truly that low in the PCS Department or is this article being a bit hyperbolic? I ask because if it is, I will spread the word and ensure I do not vote for Nanos when he finally is up for election next fall.

    • This is all true. The campaign sign theft was thrown out because commanders got involved and had the officer change the actual ARS (criminal law) statute on the citation, knowing it would later get dismissed in court. That was over 20 years ago and the regime philosophy hasn’t changed. Morale is the lowest in years. There is no support and no respect for the top leaders running the dept.

  4. Thanks for the facts. ADI. Sounds like the way Pima County works in another corrupt department. Is there a department that is not full of this behavior? Please let me know if anyone finds one.

  5. He Nanos is not Pima County Sheriff until We the Ppl Vote him in as such.

    He is a a cronie appointed to do the dirty work of Elias, Carroll, Bronson and Valadez.

    The Deputies are being abused just like all County employees except the ” high paid” & ” politically ” correct.

    Let’s start the Monsoon season with Voting out all incumbents in City Council races. Let us turn down all BONDS & tax increases.

    In just a short 15 minrgs let’s give out pink slips to Carroll, Valadez, Nanos, LaWall, Huckleberry and add lot of Dept heads as well.

    Huge sweeping change so that we can return the Sheriff Dept as well as ALL county agencies back to we the Ppl.

    • The 2016 election year could be a huge year for Pima County if voters wake up and vote for the right people. We could sweep in massive changes in the county. Let’s get it done.

  6. The article is completely accurate. Morale is sadly dropping. The respective unions will not endorse any candidate because of fear of retaliation. Unions afraid of the management. The administration Gagnepain/Radtke (Capt.Janes-placed strategically in position not necessarily earned) is vengeful, allowed to fester upon personal vendettas and threats. If you are not favored it is not necessarily good for your future. If among the favored they will allow you put in your retirement papers to get out of an assignment you can not handle, then once reassigned you are allowed to renege (resend) on retirement and keep a supervisory position, more suitable assignment conducive to your family life. The dishonest part is knowing this would happen all along but needing to “save face.” As an added bonus they will also hire your spouse without so much as a fair hiring practice external posting or interview process. Gagnepain is indeed vindictive for example: several elections ago after some endorsed sheriff candidate Roland Youngling (against incumbent Dupnik) after the election they were targeted, and their careers at PCSO were made very difficult if not impossible by then Gagnepain. Ironic but they want legitimacy and transparency as part of their organizational legacy. This seems anything but that. It says as you have yellow circled (at the top of the website) you can “Ask Anything” it just does not say they will answer anything. The men and women who actually do the work day in and day out are really fine employees. Time for the unions and voters alike to believe they deserve better. After all its your safety in their hands.

    • Capt Janes is well known in Corona. He has a habit of pulling people over in his POV. He’s pissed a lot of his neighbors off. Maybe he’ll earn enough to move to the foothills and get out of our neighborhood and stop harassing our residents. He is a colossal prick.

  7. Just curious but why would NANOS take a $60,000 plus pay cut to be Sheriff as opposed to number Two? There must be alot of perks that go unreported or maybe he is going to do what Dupnik did and just not show up 35% of the time and work on your golf game.

  8. If you work in the PCS Department, share your side. Some of us gladly receive information that proves or disproves articles like this. I posted this article on my CDT FB group with oer 1200 local residents and got some confirmation on the low morale from folks who work with in the department. I put it up for two reasons. One, we have members of the PCSD in our group who could confirm or deny the allegations. Two, if the allegations are true, the community will know how to vote when the time comes. We need a Sheriff who will take care of the folks out on the street, not his buddies sitting in the A/C counting their double dipping, fat checks.

  9. Someone needs to go to the BOS meeting and ask some of these questions of the BOS and get it on the record. It is likely that they won’t answer but that would be an answer in its self.

    Remember an election is comming up.

  10. Considering Dupnic is gone, its budget should go down. All that purchasing of various alcohol drinks should go away.

  11. Corruption & self interests at all levels of the Pima County government, but this what the voters want becuase these are the county supervisors that the voters keep voting for. So it is the fault of the voting and non-voting Pima County residents and the civil servants are just taking what they want.

  12. This is the kind of BS that gives government employees lousy reputations. You would expect better from our law enforcement officials. If the Sheriff’s office is this corrupt, what is the rest of Pima County government like. Is it any wonder that Trump is ahead in the polls. The establishment has been around too long and gotten too comfortable. This seems to be especially true with our local law enforcement. I expected better form sheriff officials. Not voting for the establishment in the next sheriff election.

  13. BOS is the problem. I attend those meeting and Bronson will not allow Ppl questioning them one second pass three minutes. She rolls her eyes and ignores you.

    Board Mber Chuck Huckleberry mother never taught him that when someone is speaking you put down your pen and paper, you make eye contact and you provide same courtesy you expect them to give you. Take a loom at video or better yet join a meeting you can witness your elected leader Chuck , that a joke.

    Then you have Ray Carroll who has conversation with is peer and just ignores the public. When you have the Gaul to ask him when he is laughing and snickering ” what so funny” he responded with ” you are”. Do you think he is listening?

    Richard Elias the best man I know shakes your hand calls you by your first name, kiss you baby for head and talks about we Latinos, but watch the slide of his hands are you looking? Yes you saw it he slides in your wallet pocket or pocket book in your purse and Steals your money to grossly misuse.

    The you have Ramon Valadez he is quiet most times not that he ever stands up for Ppl when he speaks anyway, but I would submit to you the old dichi, the quiet ones are the mist dangerous. Vote his ass out Ppl in my District please!

    Sheriff Nanos has Napoleon disposition. He was not affirmed by the Ppl. Several of us brave souls went to Board meeting but Sharon Bronson made sure we were not heard til after he was appointed. Manos is in full political mode pushing the bonds, over working his Deputies and ignoring the Ppl. He is using Elias example of shaking hands and kiss kissing babies but is as FAKE as a Three dollar bill.

    FYI I have said that at a public meeting FYI. I was told by Elias “Richard ( me ) I be careful” that was a threat as far as I am concerned. But those four words could mean anything which is why he expressly used them.

    It simple my good Ppl we render these Criminals non effective by replacing Ray Carroll and Ramon Valadez in 14/months. We sprinkle in a joyful moment if making the appointee Manos the shortest serving Sheriff in Pima County History.

    Let’s move Pima County forward, new leaders don’t just write here do something about it! I challenge you to attend board meeting, add public forum a meeting, make phone calls, put up signs in support of opposition to the stooges, knock on doors I can tell you I have done that to thousands of Ppl doors in Pima County.

    Time for action not just writing comments here at ADI. Your street, neighborhood, community and indeed all of Pima County needs you!

    Start by VOTING no on Bonds. Make a stand. Take away the money and they will pout like 5 yr olds. Let’s hit them where it hurts.

  14. Funny how somethings down in Tucson never change. In most of the country when the political machine creates phantom jobs to funnel tax dollars into the pockets of political cronies it’s investgated. In Tucson, it’s how government operates. Hopefully a new broom will sweep that place clean.

  15. The Sheriff’s Department is stuck with overpaid former commanders that have been rehired a short time after their promise to retire. Its an insult to the employees and the public. The citizens are being ripped off and yet the County Manager allows it to occur and then raises the property tax to pay for it. A new Sheriff needs to run and get rid of all of the high paying positions that were “GIVEN” to these retirees at the expense of the employees and the public. We cannot afford to use taxpayer money to maintain the standard of living these former chiefs think they deserve. They get their retirement and that’s enough. STOP ALLOWING THESE FEW FROM RIPPING OFF EVERYONE! How interesting is it that none of these x-commanders can get a job outside the Sheriff’s Department if they mismanage their money and cant get by on $100000 retirements. Why isn’t the main stream media all over this. This is a fleecing of the taxpayer. Employees have no respect for these overpaid x-commanders and they rule because of fear. How do they sleep at night.

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