Pima County Sheriff’s Staff Seeking “Just Outcome” In RICO Case

Pima County Sheriff's DUI operation [Photo from Pima County Sheriff's Office]

In February 2017, U.S. Attorney John Huber of the District of Utah washed his hands of the case against Pima County officials for the misuse of RICO funds. Huber called the misdemeanor conviction of former Pima County Chief Deputy Sheriff Chris Radtke a “just outcome.”

According to court documents, for over 18 years “officers at the Pima County Sheriff’s Department engaged in a scheme to launder RICO/forfeiture funds to circumvent the strict restrictions on the use of those funds. The officers collaborated together to make it appear that the Sheriff’s Department was donating the RICO/forfeiture funds to the Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers (SAV), although the funds were actually used by the Sheriff’s Department.”

Related Articles:

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Pima County RICO Abuse Spanned Years, Reform Welcome

Open Letter: Pima County Sheriff Napier Requests State Investigation Of Rico Fund Misuse

Radtke Sentenced To Probation, Community Service In Pima County RICO Case

Over 20 years, well over $500,000 was laundered by Sheriff’s personnel. The illegal practice reportedly ended in July 2016, according to Huber.

One month prior, the alleged mastermind behind the laundering scheme, Pima County Sheriff’s Department Chief of Staff Bradley Gagnepain, took his own life.

Despite the best efforts of power players to block any action, Radtke was finally indicted in October 2016 in the midst of an ugly Sheriff’s race between incumbent Sheriff Chris Nanos and challenger Mark Napier.

With one indictment down, and surely more to come, voters and Sheriff’s Department personnel sought a fresh start and Napier defeated Nanos in the 2016 General Election.

For years, the Pima County Sheriff’s Office was best known as a corrupt enterprise dedicated to providing cover for and cocktails to corrupt County officials. From ignoring ominous and dangerous behavior from the likes of mass shooter Jared Loughner, to delivering alcohol to certain County big wigs on Mt. Lemmon, the Department’s reputation for serving a small segment of the population was cemented.

The reputation defied what most residents experienced when working with deputies in the field. The unearned tarnished reputation took its toll on morale over the years. Even before Napier assumed office, morale was on the rise to euphoric levels based only on the hope that he would truly clean house.

The euphoria ended quickly according to diverse factions within the Department. They saw nothing change. In fact, Napier kept two members of Nanos’ leadership team, who had appeared to be benefit from the laundered funds; Karl Woolridge and Deanna Johnson, in leadership positions.

Still, Napier had done what Nanos never could: warring factions in the Department were finally united in disgust.

United in disgust

Chief Karl Woolridge is married to Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Woolridge. In 2011, Angela was lauded by then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for “exceptional performance and notable accomplishments towards the Department’s mission by an employee with fewer than five years of federal career service.” According to the Arizona Daily Star, before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Woolridge worked for Barbara LaWall at the Pima County Attorney’s Office.

The Woolridge’s relationship was believed by many to be the reason the case was “conflicted out” to Huber’s office.

Karl Woolridge was one of the recipients of a memo written by financial administrator Ron Jee in 2013, in which he warned that the RICO spending was problematic. According to a recent KGUN 9 News report by Valerie Cavasos, that memo was preceded by another that included the warning: “The guidelines also emphasize that the cost should not create the appearance of extravagance or impropriety.”

Jee told Cavasos that he was told to eliminate the word “extravagant” because it was a subjective term. However, that term is straight from the federal guidelines.

Cavasos reported that legal experts told her that “dropping that line could show intent and could spell legal trouble.” But few in the Sheriff’s Department believed it could spell legal trouble. After all, Woolridge was married to an Assistant U.S. Attorney and was believed to be cooperating with the FBI, so he would be certainly held harmless, Gagnepain was dead, Radtke would get a slap on the wrist and until Trump changed the U.S. Attorney in Arizona and its neighboring states, higher ups, who should have been held culpable would not be.

Time has shown that they were right all along. The one thing they were wrong about was what Napier would do to those “leaders” whose names appeared on RICO expenditure receipts. Not only did those “leaders” stay in leadership positions, Johnson was promoted.

Johnson is now best known for her purchases of ball gowns with RICO funds for the “extravagant” annual banquets paid for with RICO funds.

The fact that Woolridge went unscathed and Johnson was being promoted while sergeants’ were facing pay cuts put morale in a tailspin. No justice, no peace seemed to be the prevailing sentiment.

In one year alone, over $5000 was spent on liquor for the annual celebration of themselves. Leaders rented tuxedos, socks, shoes, and in the instance of then-Captain now-Chief Deanna Johnson, bought ball gowns and was reimbursed with RICO funds, Click on image for larger view

Ebb and flow

That sentiment and the general public’s feeling that Huber had not reached a “just” outcome may have been behind Napier’s request to the Arizona Attorney General to review the case and see if action could be taken on the state level.
Napier’s request buoyed morale in the Department momentarily.

It plunged again in response to Cavasos’ report last week on a conversation between Lt. Joseph Cameron and Napier. In that conversation, which Cameron secretly recorded, Napier dismissed the possibility that the Arizona General’s office was taking the investigation seriously.

In response to the news, Napier issued the following statement:

The Attorney General’s Office is the last venue available to me to have persons who may have criminal culpability to be prosecuted for the criminal misuse of RICO funds by my department. All these expenditures occurred under the prior administrations. People inside and outside the department urged me to take this step. I did. The prior federal investigation has already cleared current department members of federal criminal misconduct, indicting only former Chief Deputy Chris Radtke.

Weeks ago, I had a private candid/conversation with a friend and commander on my department that he solicited. He knew I would always make time to talk to him. Unknown to me he purposefully and secretly recorded our conversation and my very initial concerns about the AG review. This is a violation of not only trust, but also of department policy. He held this tape for weeks without taking any action. Subsequently, and unknown to him, I had more meaningful discussions with the AG and his team and indicated my desire for a thorough review. I met the investigative team for over an hour in my office. They were extremely professional and engaged. My subsequent conversations with the Attorney General and the investigative team have made me 100% confident that they are conducting a professional/detailed review of the matter. That review will take time.

There are extensive records indicating that many people at PCSD, over a period of years, expended RICO funds outside RICO expenditure guidelines. That is really not a new revelation. The federal investigation determined only one person (Radtke) expended those funds illegally. Now a state (AG) review will determine if anyone made expenditures that were illegal at a state level. There is a difference between not following RICO expenditure guidelines and illegally expending funds. This is important to understand.

Prior to taking any administrative action, it appropriate to allow the AG review to run its course. Undermining that review in the media serves no purpose, if our goal is to hold people criminally responsible. A tenured law enforcement commander should know this and that as a matter of practice we do not comment on on-going investigations. For reasons that are not clear to me, a private and candid conversation with one of my commanders, occurring weeks ago, was secretly recorded and is now being used to undermine the AG review. This seems entirely counter to the desire to hold people criminally accountable.

I am holding department members responsible, by subjecting them to a second criminal review of their actions. A year or so ago, I knew none of these people and had no relationship with them. The exception being the commander who recorded our conversation whom I have known for more than 20 years and obviously trusted. I have no reason/motivation to protect anyone. However, as your Sheriff I would hope you would expect me to provide all people due process, make responsible and thoughtful decisions, and respect the criminal justice system/process. If people have broke the law, I want them prosecuted (period) without respect to whether they are current or former members of the department. The AG review is the only avenue still available to me to make criminal prosecution happen. I will withhold any additional comments until the AG review is complete.

Napier’s statement astonished Sheriff’s personnel and left more questions. The most controversial statement is that Cameron is a friend. One staff member laughed at the thought that Napier and Cameron are friends. In fact, they advise that Napier’s supporters have attempted to smear Cameron, and Napier has told a number of people that Cameron “stalked” him and his supporters during the campaign. “Friends don’t generally stalk friends,” said the staff member who asked not to be identified. “Why is Napier blowing smoke up our asses,” asked the staff member. “Someone might believe him, but not anyone who knows them.”

Napier accuses Cameron of using the “private and candid conversation” to “undermine the AG review.” Nothing Cameron revealed could undermine the AG review. Other than the fact that Napier expressed little confidence in the AG, a sentiment shared by many, Cameron only addressed issues and documents that are part of the public record. What exactly did Napier say secretly that could cause the Attorney General’s investigation to be undermined?

When he first took office, Napier informed personnel that if he knew of any illegal activity it was his duty to report it. Personnel want to know if Napier reported the admissions made by his top staff to authorities. “He made the statement in secret,” the staff member stated. “Will he share that with the AG?”

29 Comments on "Pima County Sheriff’s Staff Seeking “Just Outcome” In RICO Case"

  1. if it still smells like 5 day old fish from the previous administration, Did we just try to fabreeze the old fish smell and continue on with the same. With mark Just carrying on the same old same old. I guess we will see over the next few years until the next election. hopefully the Voters of Pima county did not get a pig in the poke.

  2. How utterly sad that the BS that goes on in Pima County and COT politics has infected the law enforcement arm of the county. I want to give Napier the benefit of the doubt since he wasn’t hand picked by Huckelberry but I don’t know. Time will tell. I personally think that he made a huge mistake by keeping and promoting the scum that Dumbnuts and Nanos had in place. Should have cleaned house at the very beginning and everything would have been much better but he chose not to do that and this is what he has to live with now.

    • jdfast, let’s let the AG review run its course. That office can seek criminal prosecution. It is my last avenue to pursue criminal prosecution. I will respect the process and wait to see that outcome before taking administrative action. There was already a thorough and comprehensive federal investigation that indicted only one person. The state is now looking at it from that perspective. We cannot simply “clean house.” Employees have County Merit Commission protections and are entitled to due process. I am a Republican in a heavily Democratic county. Was not handpicked by another. I am respecting the process, like I hope you would want me to. Thanks, Sheriff Napier

      • With all due respect (which is getting less each day), You also don’t go around promoting aforementioned employees, giving them EXACTLY what they want, putting the most power hungry and manipulative in charge. Allowing them to have reorganized for their own personal agendas. If you think the rank and file don’t know that, you are sorely mistaken. And NO, NO one is your friend. You are not “friendly” with all the command staff. Only a certain odd few that you have evidently chosen, which just happens to be the ones implicated in past investigations and discrepancies. Leadership, wanting to do what’s right for the organization will always be friendless and lonely. You and your administration continue turning a blind eye to continued poor performance, Cameron/Harvey is included in that. You and your chiefs are solely responsible for putting him in the assignment he holds. The line and few command staff who before this administration, and after, are still trying to do an honest, good job day in and day out are the ones getting the shaft.

  3. nothing but a bunch of thieves with badges.

  4. There was a candidate who would have really cleaned house, his name was Terry Staten. Unfortunately the voters fell for the flash and fancy diplomas and elected the other candidate. Oh well, it is what it is. And Mark, if you say that Joe Cameron AKA Harvey was a friend of yours, I highly doubt your ability as a judge of character. Joe was a trouble making rabble-rouser since he started in the 80s. Unfortunately Dupnik and his handlers had a poor record of firing people, often for the wrong reasons and often overturned by The AZ Supreme Court. Joe’s termination being one of them. If you really knew the real Joe Harvey you would have reconsidered your “friendship” and kept Joe at arm’s length. A leopard cannot change his spots. Hopefully a lesson learned.

    • I try to have friendly and respectful relationships with all my commanders. Joe is one of those. I have known him for a long time and trusted we could put past differences behind us in favor of the good of the department. The AG review is far from complete. No one would want their Sheriff to rush to judgment and disrespect the due process rights of anyone. I hope. When the AG review is complete, I will decide what we do administratively. Thanks, Sheriff Napier

      • Stating you are waiting until after the AG’s investigation before other action is all fine and good in theory. If that’s what you intend to actually do. We all know it’s buying time. We hope your actions in the end match your words. We are counting on it.

        • Not buying time. Following process. The last option to hold people criminally responsible is the AG. It would be irresponsible to jump the gun and take action without knowing that outcome. People should remember, I asked for the AG review because that is what people inside and outside the department wanted. Now we need to let it run its course. The federal investigation only found one person criminally responsible. Let’s see what the AG finds out on a state level. It seems a very reasonable thing to do. Thanks, Sheriff Napier

  5. You are either FOR corruption or AGAINST corruption. There is NO middle ground.

    Napier, you have a choice to make. Either stand up for the Taxpayers and the Law, or purchase a new house right next to Dupnik.

    And everyone wonders why people distrust Law Enforcement.

    • Oh good Lord.
      Why would anyone want to live in Dupnik’s central Tucson neighborhood and next to a drunk.
      I’d choose living next to Nanos and his $700k house and seeing him and the Radtke cronies sweating it out over the AGs investigation.

    • Naw, you mean a boat in San Diego don’t you???

  6. The Oracle of Tucson | September 4, 2017 at 2:29 pm |

    To Sherriff Napier:
    You got our vote and we handed you the department, it is not a job many would want nor one that many could succeed in, but you asked for it and we gave it to you.
    I’m willing to wait out the conclusion of the AZ AG investigation, but then might I suggest you purchase a broom over at the nearby Wal-Mart and clean house.
    Then go on E-Bay and purchase a Buford Pusser stick and go knock on Babs door and then Dingleberrys door and reclaim Pima county.
    It’s gotta tough being the last Jedi.

    The Oracle

    • We don’t need a Last Jedi…we need a Yoda.

    • Thanks Oracle. I inherited some challenges to be sure. I am honestly doing my best. I think waiting for the AG to finish its review makes sense. Regarding the broom, it is tied to the County Merit Commission. These employees have protections under the Law Enforcement Merit System. I do not have the same latitude to clean house that Chief Magnus does at TPD. I ran for the positon because I want to serve the County. I started in 1981 and am proud to be the Sheriff of our County. I am far from perfect, but I am following the process with the tools available to me. Thanks, Sheriff Napier

  7. Chief Napier,
    Thanks for coming on here and answering questions, that says a lot.
    J. Todd

    • J. Todd, most people would advise me against doing so. I am not a politician, I am a cop. These are complicated issues. No matter what I do there will be critics. Many in the department have long term hatred for each other that goes back years. This is not healthy. I am trying to respect the system and the due process rights of people involved. Everyone currently at the department has already been cleared of criminal wrong-doing by the prior FBI investigation. Now, I am asking the AG to review as a second step. Seems reasonable and appropriate to wait until that review is done before taking additional action. Thanks, Sheriff Napier

      • This being the same FBI that decided even Before the ink was Started on an investigation of Clintons, nothing to see here. That FBI mark. Crap Ask For some maricopa Task force to investigate, not like sherriff joe is up there anymore. But really Trusting the FBI hmmm. Well I hope you release the documents when all this is said and done. so we can Check the Checkers.

  8. Im sure drunken Dupdick knew about it. Thats why he left in such a hurry.

  9. The worst part of this agency has, is, and will always be the command staff. The only thing that matters to most of them is their ambition, not their men.

    The sheriff seems to be trying, but he needs to spend more time among the rank and file, without commanders in tow. Pop into the stations and talk to us one on one. Keep doing it!

    The deputies and sergeants held this department together and were ignored while corrupt command played their games. Sadly, little has changed. Patrol staffing is currently at razor-thin margins. Instead of fixing the problem, command says tough shit, make due. God help you if it accrues overtime though.
    Being minimum staffed for long periods of time causes burn out and is flat out dangerous. It should be priority one right now.

    • Deputy Doe, I try to get out in the real world as much as I can. Addressing stuff like this takes a tremendous amount of my time/effort. I hope that these issues are resolved soon so I can have more free time to be out with all of you. It is by far my most favorite part of the job. I am working on the budget with respect to staffing and compensation. I do not control the purse strings. I hate all the divisiveness and turmoil. It is not good for any of us. As a Captain with TPD the thing I loved more than anything was being out with the troops. Be patient. I will be around more as soon as I can. I generally do not have commanders with me unless there is some reason to. The best part of PCSD, by far, is the line level deputies and corrections officers. I am so grateful for all you do. Thanks, Sheriff Napier

      • Sheriff Napier;

        Many of us here appreciate you
        taking time to respond to the comments
        being made here.

        As you have found out, not all Pima
        County residents are the mindless sheeple
        produced by radical public school indoctrination.

        Like most here, I voted to give you a chance
        to do something about the Pima County swamp which
        has sadly enveloped the law enforcement arena as well.

        I understand that what may be patently obvious
        to people like myself with forensic training might
        not immediately jump out at you. Definitely, can’t
        fault you there. But a certain level of discernment
        is clearly necessary to being a courageous leader.

        As for the F.B.I. probe conducted under the prior
        administration; well let’s just say there are lumps
        under the rug.

        Sadly, we have seen even the penultimate Justice system
        representatives in the land blatantly ignore the Constitution.

        Quite frankly, several of the prior Presidents have
        loaded the Justice system with Lawyers
        who hold a revisionist view of the Constitution
        which would disgust ALL of the founders-
        men who faced certain death to start this
        fledgling Country.

        So be brave, Sheriff; and be thankful you
        aren’t dealing with people with close
        Clinton ties. [where any attempt to clean
        things up might end up with you having
        an “accident.”

        God Bless!

        • Thank you Taxpayer. There is a tremendous rush to judgment here by many. Why would we not want the AG to complete its work first? I requested the secondary criminal review of this matter to help restore public confidence and hold people accountable. Now, some people seem unwilling to simply wait to see the results. Unlike you, I am confident in the FBI investigation. I have spoken to them on many occasions and do not have any reason to believe they let any of my command staff off the hook. They had no motivation to do so. None. I hope everyone would expect their Sheriff not to rush to judgment or be pressured by public opinion to withhold anyone’s due process rights. None of us want to be convicted of anything in the media, especially if (as is the case here) we had already been cleared by a complete federal investigation.

          Lastly, I appreciate the blessing. It can be a very lonely world as an elected official. Thank you, Sheriff Napier

  10. robbie mayer | September 6, 2017 at 9:12 pm |

    Sheriff Napier is new to office, and he deserves time to adjust, and learn, and become familiar with PCSD personnel. The PCSD has suffered under 36 years of an absent landlord sheriff. The deputies and sergeants are the heart of the department. PCSD has always been understaffed, and during my 21 ears there I never thought there were enough officers on patrol, and at times there were just no backup. I blame that on Sheriff D’s lack of connection to his men and lack of fortitude to confront the county manager and board. I recall once, asking a major why he allowed a lieutenant (who was an office jockey) to take an undercover car away from a burglary detective who needed it for surveillance. The major told me, “RHIP.” I asked him what that meant and he said, “rank hath its privilege.” And RHIP summed up the ethos of command staff under that sheriff. There were honest, talented commanders, but many of the upper level command staff under Sheriff D morphed into insular, adopted children, of Sheriff D, who did not have the skills or fortitude to retire in a timely manner and to move on to other jobs. They became the guests that refused to leave. But they disappeared when Sheriff Napier came on board. Reporter R Roth is incorrect when he wrote the PCSD has a reputation for corruption, the actual workers, i.e., deputies and sergeants are honest public servants, and Roth should have been more specific in attributing that allegation to a very limited number of command staff. I retired after 21 years because I had little respect for Sheriff D’s upper staff and I walked into Sheriff’s D’s office on my last day and I told him that he was out of step with the rank and file that he only cared about his command staff and that had no respect for his deputies and that one of his commanders was a crook
    . My message was not well received. I still work in law enforcement in a different city/county in a different capacity and I still think the core of the PCSD-the deputies, are some of the best cops in the state. I also think that Mr. Napier is honest, and sincere, and good police, and I like the way he opens himself up criticism and explains himself-something rare in law enforcement. And as far at Lt. Cameron secretly recording the sheriff, he violated department rules, if he thinks that he can do that with impunity, then that opens the door to everyone arbitrarily following the department rules only when it is convenient to them. I think POST should look closely at Cameron’s less than professional behavior.

    • I agree whole heartily. It is necessary at times change commands to different positions closely watch and define the capacity of the position. In government unfortunately that can only be done by promotion cross lateral positions can be refused.

  11. Let’s get one thing straight, Napier is not a cop, he’s a politician. He lied to the deputy union members by promising he would clean up the corruption in department, make deputies pay a priority, and observe and learn the Dept before making any drastic changes. Within two months he appointed three of the most hated and corrupt chiefs in LE, cut the Sgt’s pay by $10,000, reorganized the department to mirror TPD, and refused to even address a pay package with the BOS. Obviously his promise to the union was only a lie to gain their support and win their vote. Now does that sound like a Police Officer or a dirty politician? Napier is widely hated in the department by real cops. We’re looking forward to the next election so we can get rid of this lying politician and elect a Police Office with integrity.

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