PHOENIX - A long-time employee of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) has been indicted after deputies say he was found to have impersonated a law enforcement officer to obtain sensitive security-related information.
Joseph Asarisi, 48, was arrested last month and indicted on felony charges of impersonating an officer, forgery and computer tampering, according to the sheriff’s office.
Asarisi had worked in the sheriff’s office for 11 years in their inmate laundry division, according to MCSO.
The sheriff’s office told the ABC15 Investigators today that Asarisi requested help with his computer, and the technology bureau noticed a large amount of terrorism-related documents on his computer.
Sheriff’s investigators dug into the case and found that Asarisi had received the documents from a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County. He had emailed that official from his sheriff’s office email address, impersonating an officer.
The sheriff’s office told ABC15 today that they Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office had tried to verify that Asarisi worked for MCSO. MCSO verified that information, but no one clarified that he wasn’t a law enforcement officer, but a civilian employee.
The documents included very sensitive information, according to Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
“It’s very dangerous, security-wise,” Arpaio said. This included documents pertaining to terrorism, human trafficking, Jihadist reports and national and international intelligence hot sheets, according to MCSO.
Arpaio told ABC15 it wasn’t officially classified information, but information that was prohibited from being released to anyone but law enforcement officers.
Asarisi then provided that information to non-law enforcement persons, according to MCSO, including a well-known "anti-government" author based in New York City.
The sheriff’s office wouldn’t release the name of that author today, but Arpaio said his deputies travelled to New York to interview him.
The author initially denied knowing anything about Asarisi and then refused to cooperate. He referred the detectives to his attorney, according to the sheriff’s office.
Arpaio said his department didn’t think Asarisi had been disseminating the information for long.
Asarisi was released pending his trial in court, according to the sheriff’s office.