In August, Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos told reporters that his office would get the culprits behind the destruction of expensive homes during “Mansion Parties,” yet this week Nanos maneuvered to end that investigation and allowed key evidence to be destroyed.
It isn’t the first time that Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos has been accused of thwarting an investigation on behalf of his chiefs, but many hope it is the last time Nanos’ nepotistic tendencies leave Pima County residents victimized twice.
According to sources, a joint operation involving the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, Marana School Resource Officers, the Tucson Police, and Oro Valley Police Departments, was brought effectively to an end when officers attempted to arrest the nephew of Chief Deputy Christopher Radtke.
The juvenile, a student at Empire High School, was identified as one of about 80 associated adults and juveniles between the ages of 15 and 20 years old, who allegedly broke into high end vacant homes for parties. The group is accused of leaving homes in shambles including broken windows, holes in walls, and in one case, according to a KVOA report, a door was “ripped off its hinges.”
Pima County Detectives identified 18 students to be interviewed and obtained a Precursor Warrant from Pima County Superior Court judge to seize all cell phones for evidence.
The potential charges included 1st Degree Criminal Trespass (Felony 6), Criminal Damage Greater than $10,000 (Felony 4), Criminal Damage Greater than $5,000 (Felony 5), Burglary 2nd Degree (Felony 3), as well as drug, firearms, underage drinking, and contributing to a minor.
Authorities identified 9 High Schools associated with the crimes: Amphi, Tucson High, Cienega, Empire, Catalina Magnet, Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, and CDO.
According to sources, Chief Deputy Radtke’s nephew was at Empire High School when contacted by detectives. The juvenile called his mother Patricia Radtke Cordona. Within minutes all detectives and investigators were called told to stand down, by orders of Sheriff Nanos. Sources report that officers were advised that no one was to be arrested and no one was to take any cell phones. All collected evidence was returned.
Detectives watched as tweets went out to suspects to delete any information on their phones.
Later, detectives found that the cell phones were reset to factory settings or erased. Detectives believed the phones held key information to numerous crimes.
The damaged homes were listed on the market, with some families paying two mortgages. The victims were stuck with repair bills. Most of the damaged homes were taken off the market while being repaired; with families losing valuable sales time.
Combined damages are in excess of approximately $50,000.00.
The situation has raised many questions including why Nanos is interfering with yet another investigation. He prevented a thorough investigation into the death of Deputy Chief Gagnepain earlier this year. Nanos has also refused to turn over records requested by the ADI regarding the restaurant in Sheriff’s Department facilities operated by Radtke’s niece.
That alleged misuse of RICO funds is currently under investigation by the FBI.
Nanos did not respond to the ADI’s questions as to why collected evidence was returned to suspects, and why the students were not arrested in connection with the Mansion Party cases.
The ADI also asked Nanos why after Chief Deputy Radtke was notified that his nephew was about to be questioned and his cell phone taken was the operation shut down by Sheriff Nanos in minutes. Nanos did not respond.
Under the leadership of Nanos, the Department’s morale has suffered as well as its reputation. However, not nearly as much as the victims of the Mansion Party vandals.