Chain gang ad campaign draws the attention of Sheriff Joe

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- It looked like a well-behaved jailbreak. A five-man chain gang, waiving signs that had drivers doing double takes.

One of those drivers Tuesday was Maricopa County Sherrif Joe Arpaio.

"I drive by and I see ... I said, 'What's my chain gang doing here?' But then I see all these signs, pizza ... and I thought they were demonstrators," Arpaio said.

They claimed to be MCSO inmates doing a job the sheriff assigned them -- promoting a pizza place just down the block.

"They made it look like Sheriff Joe has a chain gang, that's what it said," Arpaio said. "That's not my chain gang. I would never put my chain gang in front of a business to enhance a business."

But Jeff Zaloga would, and he broke character just long enough to talk about Mr. Scrib's Pizza.

"We're from Michigan and we know that we're going to have a difficult time with competitors and making a name for ourselves," he said.

Being new to the Valley, they needed advertising that stands out.

"There's a lot of publicity that Joe Arpaio is getting for a number of different reasons," Zaloga said. "We try to capitalize on those things because we had a feeling if we did something like this, someone might pay attention to it."

And they did! The restaurant has had several phone calls, including one from the sheriff.

"I accepted their apology," Arpaio said. "That's OK, they're trying to make a buck and I can't stop them."

So despite the confusion, these guys won't end up in actual jumpsuits. Instead, they'll celebrate a promotions plan that worked.

"Sometimes it's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission," Zagola said.