Editor’s note: While AZPOST dismissed the case outlined this article, the author originally attributed quotes to AZPOST. However, they were quotes from Investigator Lauren Buhrow’s attorney, Steven Serbalik upon which the dismissal was based.
Lost in the din from attacks launched through a willing media against former Department of Economic Security Director Timothy Jeffries and his Chief Investigator Charles Loftus was the story of another smear victim, Investigator Lauren Buhrow.
It is believed that Buhrow, the Assistant Chief Investigator at the Department of Economic Security (DES) became a target of the Ducey administration for her role in the investigations of Hacienda Healthcare and HEAplus.
Shortly after Jeffries was forced to resign and the now-debunked sensational “news” reports about a massive ammo and weapons stash at DES filled the airwaves, a lesser known “event” occurred at DES, which is now been identified as a targeted political attack on Buhrow, was orchestrated by internal DES and DPS administrators.
On September 18, 2019 the Arizona Peace Officers and Standards Board (AZPOST) dismissed all allegations against Chief Buhrow. In his final comments on the report of Buhrow’s termination from DES, Steven Serbalik, Buhrow’s attorney, wrote to the AZPOST Board:
“Dismiss the final flawed allegation against her, so that she can begin to rebuild the reputation that was assassinated by an incredibly flawed investigation.”
According to the record, which is filled with documentation from both AZ DPS administrators and AZPOST investigators, DES Sergeant William “Bill” Foldesh began the attack on Buhrow when he falsely claimed that she had falsified a photocopied training record. DPS Deputy Director Heston Silbert armed with the false accusation, pushed for his crack-team of DPS investigators to conduct a full-blown witch hunt.
DPS Investigators interviewed Chief Buhrow, described by many as a consummate law enforcement professional, consistently denied she altered or falsified any training record. Ignoring the near impossibility of the alleged action, and her repeated denials, DPS Investigators insisted that she was untruthful and was subsequently released from employment.
DES then submitted a professional conduct complaint to AZPOST in order to force the forfeiture of her police officer credentials. The demand for forfeiture was seen by many in the law enforcement community as strictly petty and viciously punitive.
AZPOST did what DPS investigators apparently would not do; conduct an honest investigation and search for the truth.
A simple comment made by Chief Buhrow during one of the AZPOST interviews summed up the nature of her victimization. The record show that Chief Buhrow reminded investigators that Sgt. Foldesh, a DES Internal Affairs Investigator, had friends in “high places.” How high? All the way to the eleventh floor of the Arizona State Executive Tower.
Keep in mind this attack on Buhrow occurred a few months after Jeffries and Loftus opened the criminal case on Hacienda Healthcare and shortly after Ducey’s team terminated their employment.
Assistant Chief Buhrow was not only working on the Hacienda Healthcare investigation, she supervised the unit that investigated food stamp fraud allegations against Cecilia “Ceci” Velasquez, the Arizona lawmaker who ultimately pleaded guilty for submitting false food stamp applications in 2016. Not long before the ouster of Jeffries and Loftus, Assistant Chief Buhrow had also just opened another felony investigation on another member of the Arizona state legislature for elder exploitation which was closed after she was released from DES.
The quiet assault on Assistant Chief Buhrow was devastating to friends and colleagues, who knew her to be a woman of the highest integrity.
After Buhrow endured the seemingly endless attack and welcomed a year of scrutiny, Serbalik concluded:
“There is no evidence to support that Buhrow was ever dishonest to investigators. A review of the facts will show that all the information she put forward was later proven to be true.”
“Lauren Buhrow did not “lie” about signing a compliance form for a training that she attended – and she certainly did not alter her training logs in any way.”
Then AZPOST investigators questioned DPS’s investigators did not question the motives of Sgt. Foldesh – especially when he implicated another DES Sergeant as a co-conspirator of Chief Buhrow’s. After all, DPS discovered Foldesh’s allegations were blatantly false when they determined that the alleged co-conspirator, Sergeant Roberts, did not have the same training records and there was no evidence of any involvement with Chief Buhrow. On this issue, Serbalik wrote:
“This should have led (DPS) investigators to the conclusion that Sgt. Foldesh had provided them with provably false information. Buhrow did not obtain Roberts’ training certificate and alter or modify that document in any way, as the documents are distinctly different.”
This discrepancy should have raised red flags. In light of the fact that an internal affairs investigator, who was fabricating charges against his superior and reportedly making it known that he wanted her job, sirens should have blared as the red flags were raised.
Shortly before the attack on Buhrow, Ducey had placed a hold on all firings at DES that were without cause. This was due to the well-publicized allegations that Jeffries was over-zealously firings DES staff. The hiring hold may have given enemies an additional incentive to fabricate a story.
AZPOST was tasked with determining whether or not the training record was altered, or legitimate. Serbalik wrote:
“There is no evidence that the compliance form was altered or forged in any way – in fact, there is clear evidence to support that the compliance form is authentic.”
“There a number of issues which need to be addressed by AZPOST. Critically, it should be noted that NONE of the allegations made by Sgt. Foldesh are supported by evidence in this case.”
Although the claims have been proven false, the damage to Assistant Chief Buhrow is done. Buhrow has been unemployable as a police officer since this occurred. Questions remain about Buhrow’s status on the Brady List.
“Brady lists” are named after a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court cast that required police departments to disclose to defendant’s information about dishonest law enforcement officers who may be unfit to testify in court.
The ADI asked DES for their Brady List several times. DES claims they do not maintain a Brady list because they do not have any investigator on it. That is good, if it is true.
Former Chief Buhrow lost her DES job because she was an honest, fearless at-will employee. She has no recourse except perhaps a lawsuit. But what she does have – thanks to the honest and fearless men and women of AZPOST, is her reputation and the satisfaction of knowing that she exposed the corrupt nature of the Ducey administration.
Meanwhile, Sergeant William “Bill” Foldesh, now retired, collects a healthy pension from a broken system.