County employees outraged after sheriff's detectives visit their homes

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PHOENIX -- One agency brings people to justice and the other doles out that justice. The Maricopa County sheriff and the county court should be on the same side. But instead, a battle between the two has only deepened.

Over the weekend, more than a half dozen county employees were visited by Maricopa County sheriff’s detectives in what is believed to be an ongoing corruption investigation. The employees range from high ranking management officials to line employees, in departments ranging from the Superior Court to the Office of Management and Budget. 

"Why would you go visit their houses when you know where they work?" asked Cari Gerchick, spokesperson for the Board of Supervisors. "Just saying, 'Hey, we want to ask you a few questions.' And especially if your children are around."

None of the county employees agreed to be questioned by deputies, which is within their legal rights. It is believed detectives are investigating alleged corruption in construction of the new $340 million Superior Court tower in downtown Phoenix.

"I could never in a million years possibly understand what the sheriff's motivation or plan here is," Gerchick continued. "We are fine with legitimate law enforcement; this is not legitimate."

County Attorney Andrew Thomas says a triad of corruption involving the court, the Board of Supervisors and a pair of private attorneys exists in Maricopa County. Four Superior Court judges, including presiding Judge Barbara Mundell, have been named in a federal civil racketeering suit filed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Thomas alleging corruption and obstruction.

Last week MCSO detectives served a search warrant at Chicanos por la Causa headquarters as part of a criminal investigation of Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, who was indicted last week by a county grand jury.

"All I know is that we live in a society governed by the rule of law," Gerchick said. "Rule of law does not include the rule of intimidation, which is what he seems to be applying to every single situation."

Maricopa County Sheriff's Dep. Lindsey Smith issued the following statement to 3TV:

"This is a pending investigation and information relating to this case is not available for release."

This is not the first time MCSO used this particular tactic. This summer they also tried to question county employees at their homes as part of the investigation.