Reaction has been swift to comments made by Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier and his decision to call for an investigation by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office into the misuse of RICO funds. On Friday, Manuel van Santen, President of the Fraternal Order of Police, Pima Lodge 20 released a statement calling for the investigation to be “thorough, fair, and impartial.”
Napier’s comments were featured in an investigative report by Valerie Cavazos for KGUN 9 News. Lt. Joe Cameron turned over recordings he made of conversations with Napier to Cavazos. Napier told Cameron that he believed most of the leadership the Department were guilty of misusing RICO money.
Napier told Cameron that the Attorney General’s Office “had no intention nor did they have any desire “to investigate the misuse of RICO funds. In fact, they think it is silly.” He claimed that he “looked a little silly for even asking them.”
Napier stated that Karl Woolridge, Deanna Johnson, and Byron Gwaltny who were all promoted to chief by Napier, and other leaders, “admit to me” that they misused funds.
Napier told Cameron, “A lot of people here did not follow the rules. I’m positive of that. All of my chiefs didn’t follow the rules.”
In fact, as the ADI reported in August, Johnson bought herself ball gowns with RICO funds, and Woolridge rented a tuxedo for the annual extravagant parties the Sheriff’s hosted with RICO funds.
In his letter to Napier on Friday, Manuel van Santen states that his members are “greatly disappointed to hear the recent information provided by Lieutenant J. Cameron.”
“We know that this is has been a one sided story at this point,” wrote van Santen. “It is currently perceived that you and/or other members of this department have information about this misuse of public funds and have chosen to only hold those accountable that stood in the way of your current position. We will be anticipating your response to Lieutenant Cameron’s allegation of your knowledge and alleged in-action to hold other department members responsible.”
According to sources, Napier’s supporters in and out of the Department have already begun threatening retaliation against Cameron and Cavasos.
“We, the members of the Fraternal Order of Police, Pima Lodge 20, agree that the information provided recently by Lieutenant J. Cameron needed to be given to our community so we can put this situation to rest. We recognize that the way the information was gathered could possibly be in violation of department policy, which we do not condone. Based on the initial investigation by the FBI, our department has new procedures in place to spend RICO funds appropriately,” read a press release from van Santen sent earlier on Friday.
“We ask that this ongoing investigation be thorough, fair, and impartial. We, like the community, want those responsible for misusing funds held accountable. We want the Sheriff to fulfill his promise to our community that those county employees whom played a part in this violation of trust would be held accountable, whether through internal discipline, or charged criminally,” continued the press release.
“We appreciate those people who continue to exhibit courage by coming forward with information. We hope that those that do come forward have gathered the information appropriately,” concluded van Santen.
Aaron Ludwig, the Managing Director of The Counterracketeering Group and an expert on RICO funds, believes that the only way for an audit to be impartial is for it to be conducted by a person or organization outside of government. “I don’t see how a RICO funds audit or investigation conducted by the attorney general can be impartial because that office handles RICO funds the same way as the Sheriff’s Office.”