At the center of the controversy surrounding the Pima County Sheriff’s Department stands Lt. Joseph Cameron. Cameron, a 30 year veteran of the Department reopened the wound left by the failed FBI investigation into the misuse of RICO funds last year.
The FBI’s investigation into the misuse of RICO funds by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department resulted in a single conviction. No one will ever truly know if the FBI failed, or if the United States Department of Justice failed to secure more convictions in the money laundering scheme that involved hundreds of thousands of dollars and spanned 18 years.
What is known, is that Chief Deputy Chris Radtke was the lone leader found culpable. When the case was concluded, the U.S. Attorney, who handled the case out of Utah, stated that his office had achieved a just result.
It might have been just in his jaundiced eyes, but for guys like Cameron, it was anything but just. Having worked the night shift on the south side of Pima County, Cameron had seen just about all the injustice one could imagine. As a kid, he bounced around from home to home on Tucson’s south side, Cameron has a great deal of empathy for the underdog. The injustice to his underdog deputies, who had expected, and deserved to see corrupt leaders do a perp walk, was too much.
Initially, Cameron reached out to newly elected Sheriff Mark Napier in the hope that Napier would clean house. Napier had promised to do so during the 2016 election season. It hadn’t happened, and according to Cameron, Napier did not give him or others confidence that it would.
He began recording conversations with Sheriff’s personnel early in Napier’s tenure. He knew the questions he was asking put him at risk. He had seen the abuse Napier’s team had heaped on whistleblower Kevin Kubitskey. Cameron was not going to be abused and accused of lying about his claims.
Cameron appeared on the James T. Harris show on Wednesday. Harris had invited Cameron on when he heard that Arizona Daily Star columnist Tim Steller was preparing to “kill the messengers.” Cameron and KGUN 9 News Valerie Cavasos, who had broken the Cameron/Napier recording story were to be the subjects of a hit piece according to multiple sources.
In Pima County, Steller and Murphy Woodhouse with the Star, Dylan Smith of the Tucson Sentinel and Jim Nintzel of the Tucson Weekly have become known to Harris’ audience as the “Huckelberry Hounds.” They earned the moniker due to their willingness to attack any and all enemies of Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. Even before taking office, Napier was making nice with Huckelberry and appears to have the hounds on loan.
Beating Steller to the punch, Harris asked Cameron to spill his guts. “Give me the good, the bad, and the ugly of Lt. Joseph Cameron,” Harris said. Cameron laughed and candidly recited a litany of triumphs and mostly tribulations.
“I am the most disciplined guy in the Department,” said Cameron. He told Harris that he has been disciplined “at least twice a year” for everything from swearing, to crashing cars.
Cameron told Harris that it is his history as Joseph Harvey that his enemies trot out to discredit him.
According to the Tucson Citizen, Joseph Harvey, was fired from the Pima County Sheriff’s Office in 2001. Dupnik cited “a history of policy violations” for the firing. Among the violations was an instance when he slapped a suspect, who had been shot by another deputy. Cameron/Harvey says he was trying to “keep the guy conscious” but he was accused of using excessive force. The suspect was later convicted of several crimes.
Time and time again, over a four year period, Cameron beat Sheriff Dupnik in court. Time and time again, Dupnik appealed. Sgt. Richard Anemone, president of the Tucson Police Officers Association, told the Citizen that Dupnik “knows the county has deep pockets” so the appeals continued all the way up to the Arizona Supreme Court.
The Tucson Citizen reported:
During Pima County Law Enforcement Merit Commission hearings, Harvey’s firing was justified by the County’s risk management department, Anemone said. In 10 claims involving Harvey, according to figures provided by Parker, the County paid $469,309.
In a few of the same cases, Harvey was commended for his actions by the Sheriff’s Department, Anemone said. While more complaints have been filed against Harvey than anyone else in the department, he is also the county’s most-decorated deputy, Anemone said.
Harvey and his defenders say the more an officer is on the streets, the more complaints will be generated. Harvey has been on patrol longer than any other deputy – 14 years – in the highest-crime district at the highest-crime hours.
After getting his job back, Cameron “was cited on misdemeanor charges after a worker spotted him urinating in Arizona Stadium Monday morning,” a UA police spokesman told a Tucson Citizen reporter.
The Arizona Daily Star reported that “Cameron was at the stadium to exercise on the stadium stairs,” and urinated in a tunnel. He cooperated with officers when they spoke with him.
Now, he is pissing on Napier’s parade.
Cameron knows that he has made himself a target for demanding that Department leaders are held responsible for the misuse of RICO funds. But he doesn’t care. He wants Napier to understand that it is wrong to treat chiefs Woolridge, Johnson, and Gwaltny differently than he would treat any low level deputy who admitted, as the chiefs did, to misusing public monies.
Cameron says he has nothing to lose by taking on this fight. He’s been there, he’s done that. After 30 years of watching the deputies he loves be subjected to what he suspects is just one more corrupt leader, there is nothing that the likes of Steller, or Napier can do to him, that he can’t take.