What is now known in Arizona as prosecutorial discretion; is known elsewhere as public corruption. During the past two years, Arizonans have watched as a new batch of leaders reshape and redefine the economic, political, and legal landscape and language including terms like public corruption.
When the press buys into the new definition, questions surrounding situations like those confronted by former Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) director Tim Jeffries, Chief Accountability Officer Juan Arcellana, Chief Human Resources Officer Morris Greenidge and Security Operations Administrator Charles Loftus go unanswered.
Left unasked and unanswered, the questions slowly erode our confidence in our government. That lack of confidence is warranted as fixers in both the Governor’s and Attorney General’s Office work to destroy the reputations of true public servants while covering for corrupt public officials.
The destruction of DES and Morris Greenidge
Chief Human Resources Officer Morris Greenidge , Chief Accountability Officer Juan Arcellana, and Security Operations Administrator Charles Loftus had dedicated their lives to public service. Prior to Jeffries’s tenure as DES Director, their reputations were impeccable. In fact, their reputations remained intact up until the day of their dismissals. Due to the shoddy and sensational reporting by Arizona Republic reporter Craig Harris and columnists, who didn’t question his work, the three men became the collateral damage in the war on reformer Jeffries.
Greenidge, who had served the residents of Arizona for over 25 years, was considered above reproach for his diligence. He had been the Director of DES’s Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) since 1999, and had worked closely with nine former DES Directors during his employment. Because he is an expert in discriminatory and otherwise unfair employment practices, Jeffries and the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) moved him into position to oversee DES HR in April 2016. Despite being moved into that position, he continued in his role as Director of the OEO as well. Harris ignored that fact, as well as the fact that Greenidge came late to the game. Harris failed to investigate and report on what happened to the DES HR Manager who had been in place from January 2015 until April 2016 when Greenidge moved into the position. He also failed to investigate the time period during which the alleged wrongful terminations occurred.
Well past the years of service needed to retire, Greenidge did not need to, and would not, compromise his principles. Those principles include honesty and loyalty; two attributes that would not be used to describe the Ducey administration and its main players.
Had Harris done any deep digging he would have discovered that because Greenidge would not cooperate with Elizabeth Thorson and Nancy Gomez of the ADOA and play dirty hard ball in furtherance of Adam’s attack on Jeffries, he was led out of the DES offices with Jeffries, Arcellana, and Loftus right before Thanksgiving. In fact, Greenidge had already exited his position as the Chief Human Resources Officer within ADOA and had returned to DES in order to continue in his role as Director of OEO as well as assume other responsibilities. Thorson inappropriately ignored Greenidge’s transfer back to DES and fired him from both DES and ADOA, although he was already no longer an ADOA employee.
According to sources inside the ADOA, Thorson wanted Greenidge to turn on Jeffries. They wanted him to turn over the now notorious “idiot” email. They already had that email in which Jeffries refers to a DES employee as an “idiot” for what Jeffries perceived as an attempt to turn the announcement of the indictment of former State Rep Ceci Velasquez into a political issue. But if a long-time, well-respected employee turned the email over to ADOA it would look as if Jeffries had lost important support.
Jeffries inappropriately responded to the “idiot” employee’s seemingly political maneuvers by ordering his firing.
However, Jeffries’ visceral reaction to the charge that Valesquez’s firing was political was understandable given the fact that his administration’s investigations were nonpartisan. At the time of his firing, the DES Office of Inspector General, under the leadership of Arcellana was investigating alleged fraud by a wealthy Republican Party donor and another democrat lawmaker.
DES under Jeffries was rooting out “bullies, liars, and bad actors” among the ranks of DES employees as well as recipients. And that key fact was why Jeffries, Arcellana, Greenidge and Loftus had to go.
As an African American working for the State of Arizona, Greenidge has seen all kinds of discrimination. The Ducey administration’s level of discrimination against truth-tellers is unique. For people who know Greenidge to be a unique man, who possesses a serene sense of place and humor, the ignominious exit orchestrated by Adams confirms the fact that the Ducey administration is no place for good people.
The destruction of DES and Juan Arcellana
Juan “Jay” Arcellana became the head of DES’ head of the Office of Inspector General when Tim Jeffries agreed to take over DES at the request of Governor Ducey. As Inspector General of the Department, Arcellana was tasked with ferreting out corruption wherever it was, and go after the perps whoever they were.
● “An Arizona Department of Economic Security worker cracked under the strain of an abusive boss, admitted herself to a psychiatric ward, and talked of wanting to “shoot someone,” the agency says.
When the DES Office of Inspector General investigated, witnesses corroborated the employee’s story of verbal and physical abuse, and the supervisor was arrested last week at work by armed OIG officers.”
● “In August, the DES arrested an employee in connection with food-benefits fraud — which he said was the first time in the history of the agency that such behavior wasn’t swept under the rug. Since then, the agency’s own police force has arrested two other employees for suspected benefits fraud; a third suspect was investigated by the OIG and arrested by Buckeye police. A fourth employee was arrested in January in connection with financial exploitation of an elderly person.”
Arcellana served the people of the state for over twenty-five years. He sat on the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board for 16 years and served as the Executive Director/Chief Administrative Law Judge for the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board for 8 years. During part of that time, he also, served as President of the National Association of Unemployment Insurance Appeals Boards.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza spoke of Judge Arecellana on the floor of Congress before the passage of a Congressional Resolution in honor of Arcellana. Cardoza stated on May 4, 2004: “Jay has spent an entire career dedicated to serving the unemployed and disabled citizens of California. He is particularly proud of his efforts to enhance the accessibility of the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board administrative hearing process, and ensure prompt consideration and action on their appeals.”
Cardoza continued, “Jay has received numerous commendations for his professionalism, expertise, hard work, extraordinary effort, and spirit of cooperation over the years, and it is certainly well deserved. Jay has personally touched the lives of many people throughout his career, giving many an employment opportunity allowing them to demonstrate and develop their individual talents.”
It was because of his fearlessness and dedication to people with needs that Jeffries asked him to come to DES.
In April 2016, Mary Jo Pitzl in the Arizona Republic reported on the changes Arcellana was making to the Department in the aftermath of the San Bernardino massacre. The report reads in part:
“The agency is working on an exception to its ban on weapons at DES properties so police officers can openly carry. DES currently is looking for peace officers within its ranks who would be willing to fill the role of an internal security force.
Jay Arcellana, head of DES’ new internal-security division (sic), said the policy change is motivated by recent active-shooter cases. The mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., happened at a social-service office, which was not lost on DES officials. Besides, he noted, Arizona lawmakers are now allowed to carry guns at the Legislature, so DES is not the first to show security concerns.
“We’re a social-service agency,” Arcellana said. “When we’re dealing with a clientele in need, oftentimes people are desperate.”
DES’ pending policy change is only part of a wide-ranging effort to beef up security, officials say. Other measures include an armed guard at the main desk of the agency, key-card access to offices, a review of parking facilities and increased safety training. So far, no background checks for non-staffers.”
While at DES, Arcellana’s team investigated calls that came in through the tip line. No thought, according to Arcellana, was given to politics. If someone was abusing the system as in the case of the lawmaker, who allegedly accessed their father’s benefits to supplement their re-election campaign funds, to an owner of a large medical supply and services business; if an allegation was made an investigation was initiated.
Arcellana and Jeffries fought the” fixers” in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and Governor’s Office until the “fixers” eventually they found a way to stop the investigations. Arcellana, who by all accounts is a very gentle, cautious, and soft spoken, was led out of the DES building accompanied by the Department of Public Service SWAT team.
The petty Adams appeared to take pleasure in taking the men down – especially on the day before Thanksgiving. It is widely believed that Adams arranged for the SWAT team to be on hand in order to make the firings look legit. Harris and others could then portray Jeffries, Arcellana, Greenidge and Loftus as members of an armed DES religious cult.
The destruction of DES and Charlie Loftus
Charlie Loftus has been in law enforcement all of his adult life. After serving with the ASU Police Department for 23 years, he moved on to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for around eight years. He earned a Ph.D. focused on public corruption in 2005 from ASU. He presently teaches at ASU and is the faculty co-director of an ASU study abroad program that takes students to Israel for Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence training every summer. The summer of 2017 will be his tenth year taking students on this trip, which has now grown into two separate groups of students that travel in June and July.
Loftus is hardly a scoundrel, or a cult member. He is a peace officer in every sense of the word and has been involved in investigating some of Arizona’s largest criminal cases. He was a peace officer at DES. Records at AZPOST, the organization that certifies police officers in Arizona, show that many of the investigators at DES had full peace officer authority. They had to in order to investigate felony crimes such as elder exploitation and benefit fraud schemes.
Both Kirk Adams, who has earned the moniker Baghdad Bob in law enforcement circles, and Ryan Anderson, who runs interference for Attorney General Mark Brnovich, complained in the media about Loftus and other DES peace officers carrying guns. Neither Adams nor Anderson know much about law enforcement, and both represent political interests that have little interest in peace and justice.
Apparently, the two do not know that ARS 38-1113 provides: “…a peace officer shall not be prohibited from carrying a firearm if the peace officer is in compliance with the firearm requirements …” In fact, peace officers are expected to be armed and prepared to protect the public at all times.
Facts are pesky things, and the fact that Loftus was carrying his personally-owned pistol when DPS raided DES didn’t make it into Harris’ story. Harris’ story incorrectly said DPS went to Loftus’ house to get the state-owned weapon. What other facts Harris reported are incorrect?
Another fact that Harris seemed to overlook – or deliberately left out if his stories – was the fact that the DES Office of Inspector General (DES OIG) is a recognized and functional Arizona law enforcement agency and has been for about 6 years.
Instead, according to sources, Bagdad Bob was pushing the story that the DES OIG was a rouge clandestine unit engaged in amassing weapons and ammunition and was selling it on Craig’s List.
Adams’ operatives also released erroneous information alleging that there was missing ammunition (70,000 rounds or 1.6 tons) and guns, which he knew was entirely false, according to sources.
Adams took advantage of the fact all state sworn investigators are at will employees without any appeal process (except DPS personnel). As at will employees, they are not protected from the strong arm tactics used by political hacks in order to make investigations go away. To their credit, officers still resist those tactics, and on occasion, the people of Arizona are served despite the powers-that-be best efforts to subvert it.
Upon closer scrutiny, the sensational ammunition stories don’t hold water.
Harris reported that Loftus had accumulated pallets of munitions. There were pallets of ammunition for sure, but regulations require that munitions over a certain weight (approximately 45 pounds) be shipped by ground on pallets. In the case of the DES shipments, some pallets had as little as 2 cases of bullets to another pallet that had 6 cases.
Given the AZPOST’s required trainings of peace officers, which in the case of DES would have consumed approximately 43,000 practice rounds, the bullets on the pallets would have been used up in short order.
Given the fact that Loftus was to replace all 72 contract guards with DES guards, who are armed, the number of guns – 50 to be precise – was not even enough.
Yet, we are supposed to believe that a trained and widely-respected peace officer like Charlie Loftus was creating a cultish army. More likely Loftus touched a nerve when he assisted Arcellana with the politically-charged cases of lawmakers committing fraud at taxpayers’ expense.
The destruction of public trust
For Ducey, painting the cult scenario is much better than trying to explain why deep-pocketed donors might be given a pass when they cross the legal lines. It is far better for guys like Ducey and Adams to turn hapless politicians, who play fast and loose with welfare benefits, into political chits to be used later rather than see them in orange jump suits now. If in fact, the DES OIG was asked to investigate Gomez for various employment violations shortly before the DPS raid on DES, there were far more smoking guns in the hands of the governor’s operatives than in the basement of DES.
Due to the Attorney General’s ability to make politically inconvenient fraud cases miraculously disappear, there is little chance that the crooks uncovered by the DES OIG will pay for their crimes. In the name of prosecutorial discretion the guilty parties will go unpunished and the “good guys” like Jeffries, Greenidge, Arcellana, and Loftus suffer from sloppy reporting and Adam’s ugly whisper campaign.
Jose Suarez, a DES employee posted a comment on an article in the ADI on December 19. It read:
“The great DES lost a great man who was giving it all every single day without question or hesitation. As a current DES employee, I can assure you all that the difference was made. The people of AZ that need our help and all the wonderful employees of our great agency noticed the incredible change. I’m not afraid to voice my opinion and even wrote a letter to the editor of the AZ Republic to let them know about what’s really going on. As an Army Veteran, integrity has been a trait of mine since becoming a Soldier, so believe me when I say that DES was transformed into Greatness when Tim Jeffries was around. The Governor should reinstate Director Jeffries effective immediately to avoid the agency falling into wrong hands and stop the chaos now.”
It is doubtful that Jeffries, Loftus, Arcellana, or Greenidge would go back. So in the end, the public and the neediest among us will have lost the most. That is how things work in Ducey’s Arizona.