The Office of the Auditor General has referred findings of an audit of RICO spending by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, under former County Attorney Lando Voyles and the Pinal County’s Sheriff’s Office, under former Sheriff Paul Babue, to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
Auditors found that the County Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office misused RICO (anti-racketeering) monies during the period of January 2013 through December 2016. The Auditor found that County officials did not follow established policies and potentially violated conflict-of-interest policies.
Auditors found that former Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and his employees “disbursed $151,645 of community outreach award monies for unauthorized purposes benefiting former Pinal County Attorney and former Pinal County Sheriff programs.”
Lt. Joseph Cameron, a whistleblower in the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, which has had personnel convicted of RICO spending abuse, applauded the auditor’s work. “I am very pleased to hear about the Auditor General’s findings regarding the Pinal County Attorney’s Office and the Pinal County Sheriffs Department.My hope is the same thing will occur at the Pima County Sheriffs Department regarding the RICO corruption by retired and current senior commanders in the current administration.”
According to Aaron Ludwig, the Managing Director of The Counterracketeering Group and a RICO funds expert, the findings of the Auditor General may warrant the same criminal charges previously brought against the Pima County Sheriff’s Department by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah.
In that case, Pima County Chief Deputy Sheriff Radtke was indicted for money laundering for transferring RICO funds to a non-profit organization to avoid federal guidelines and restrictions on RICO expenditures. Radtke pleaded guilty to two counts of theft from a federally-funded program.
According to Ludwig, the FBI is investigating the Pinal County Sheriff’s Department and Pinal County Attorney’s Office for the same thing as the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
As the former chief of the Arizona Attorney General’s RICO funds office, Ludwig has consistently advised Arizona chiefs of police that they should not handle their RICO funds the way that Pima County, Pinal County, and even the Attorney General’s Office, have handled RICO funds because of the criminal conduct involved.
Few have confidence that the Arizona Attorney General’s Office will move against the former County Attorney and Sheriff. This doubt is a result of the efforts by Attorney General staff to thwart RICO reforms by Rep. Bob Thorpe on the legislative level.
Former Pinal County Attorney (Lando Voyles) did not always follow established procedures and ensure that organizations followed established guidelines —
During calendar years 2013 through 2016, the former Pinal County Attorney awarded almost $2.4 million of his office’s and the former Pinal County Sheriff’s local anti-racketeering community outreach award monies to approximately 225 community organizations. We found that the former County Attorney did not always follow his own established procedures and did not always ensure that organizations followed the established guidelines before providing them community outreach award monies. Specifically:
• For 39 of the 82 awards reviewed, the County was unable to provide an application or written proposal from the community organizations that received the awards.
• For the 43 awards that included applications or written proposals directly from the community organization, the documentation was incomplete or had missing information.
• The County was unable to provide documentation to show that the Community Outreach Fund Committee evaluated the 82 awards as the procedures required.
• For 77 of the 82 awards, the County was unable to provide a memorandum of understanding between the community organization and the former Pinal County Attorney outlining the agreement terms as the procedures required.
Accordingly, the uses of the awarded monies could not be determined.
Former Pinal County Attorney appears to not have monitored community organizations to ensure awarded monies were used for authorized purposes —
For 75 of the 82 community outreach awards reviewed, it appears the former Pinal County Attorney did not monitor the community organizations’ expenditures to ensure monies were used for authorized purposes directed at substance abuse prevention and education or gang prevention and to ensure the return of any unspent monies. For example, monies were spent on unauthorized purposes such as appreciation events for county sheriff employees and their families and construction of a church dance studio.
Former County Sheriff and county sheriff employees’ should have disclosed conflict of interest and abstained from involvement in award decisions —
Of the nearly $2.4 million in local anti-racketeering community outreach awards approved by the former County Attorney from January 2013 through December 2016, the Arizona Public Safety Foundation (Foundation) received 31 awards totaling $683,406, the largest amount awarded to any community organization. County sheriff employees have historically been involved in the Foundation’s business by doing such things as holding board officer positions, performing accounting functions, approving transactions in several expense categories, and holding foundation credit cards in their names. The former County Sheriff, county sheriff employees, or county attorney employees had initiated $230,000 of the $683,406 in community outreach awards on the Foundation’s behalf, contrary to the County Attorney’s established procedures. After the Foundation received those awarded monies, the former County Sheriff or county sheriff employees controlled the Foundation’s $205,625 in disbursements. However, despite the former County Sheriff and county sheriff employees having a substantial level of involvement in how the Foundation used the monies, they appear to have failed to disclose their conflict of interest in Pinal County’s records, contrary to county policy.