In day two of testimony in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's contempt of court case, MCSO's top chief was grilled by the American Civil Liberties Union on the controversial investigation known as "Seattle Operation."
Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan said $250,000 was spent on the investigation, which looked into allegations and tips that came in from Seattle-based Dennis Montgomery. Montgomery, who did contract work with the NSA and CIA, claimed to be a whistleblower.
“He came to us with the bank account information of 150,00 Maricopa County residents," Sheridan said of Montgomery. "He said he obtained the records while he was a contractor with the NSA and CIA. They contracted with him to do this. He knew what they were doing was illegal so he made a copy, before he went home with this data so he could become a whistleblower."
Sheridan added that if the evidence Montgomery had was credible, then the money spent would be worth it.
ACLU attorney Cecillia Wang asked Sheridan if he was investigating allegations that the federal government was tapping the personal phones of Arpaio and Sheridan, and if he was looking into Judge Murray Snow.
“I remember telling my detective that we can’t investigate judges. I told the detective if Montgomery provided any information on the judge that we couldn’t use it and to send Montgomery away,” said Sheridan.
Sheridan admits Montgomery wasn’t a credible source, but documentation presented by the ACLU suggests MCSO was still working with him in April 2015.
Also addressed during the testimony with Sheridan: 1,459 identification cards that were turned in by an MCSO sergeant in June 2015.
“I was dumb-founded,” said Sheridan.
Wang asked if he know the plaintiff in the Melendres case and the court-appointed monitor would take this seriously.
Sheridan responded, "Yes.”
The ACLU stated that the IDs were turned in July 8, but the court monitor made the discovery on July 20 during a scheduled inspection.
“We didn’t tell them because wanted to find out what he was doing with all these IDs. Why didn’t he turn them in? What happened to the chain of command? I wanted to know how he obtained those IDs,” said Sheridan.
Sheridan testified that during a July 17 meeting to prepare the monitoring team, the council advised that the issue concerning the IDs be brought up if the monitor asked. Sheridan was having the council research if the IDs fell under the February 2015 court order that required MCSO to turn over all copies of identification cards seized during investigations.
“I learned he had pulled them out of the evidence room. They were in the destruction bin. This was happening over a period of years, starting in 2010,” said Sheridan.
“In my mind, I wanted to get the story straight before we ring the alarm. My reaction was alarming. And knowing how the monitor would respond to it was a grave concern. I wanted to make sure before we responded to the monitor, that we knew what we were talking about,” said Sheridan.
Sheridan testified that the internal Investigation into the IDs was partially suspended and has since been reopened to find out who handled those IDs.