Lawsuit Alleges: MCBOS Rewards Friends and Arpaio/Thomas Enemies with Taxpayers’ Money

A m e r i c a n P o s t – G a z e t t e
Distributed by C O M M O N S E N S E , in Arizona
Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fired Deputy County Attorney spills beans in lawsuit against Supervisors on how they rewarded their friends and Arpaio/Thomas enemies with $100,000.00’s.

Randy Parraz wasn’t even a protester, nor had he filed a lawsuit against the County, yet County Supervisors added him in to receive an inflated award of taxpayers’ money.

Here are some excerpts from fired Deputy County Maria Brandon’s federal lawsuit against Maricopa County:

In 2010, as the high-profile feud escalated, some in county management began to use the county’s self-insured trust to reward political friends such as anti-Arpaio and anti-Thomas protestors. They also sought to punish Arpaio and Thomas politically by paying more than necessary to settle his claims and lawsuits and then publicly blaming the costs on Arpaio and on Thomas and their mismanagement.

Attorneys in Special Litigation who were under the chain of command of county management but providing representation to Arpaio and Thomas as their attorneys, refused on ethical grounds to go along with this behavior.
An attempt was made to keep these attorneys from returning to the County Attorney’s office. When this was opposed by newly-elected County Attorney Bill Montgomery, a scheme was devised to circumvent the merit system so the salaries of these employees could be slashed and/or they could be fired without the right to appeal.

In February 2010, Risk Management adjuster Jacquie Garrett, who was assigned to adjust three lawsuits filed by a group of seven (7) anti-Arpaio protestors arising from incidents on December 15th and 17th, and Brandon decided requested settlement authority of $7500 foreach protestor, a total of $52,500.32. At the end of April 2010, Risk Manager Rocky Armfield sent Brandon an email explaining that he had obtained additional authority of up to $100,000 per protestor, and that he was adding the claim of Randy Parraz, a political activist who was not arrested or a participant on December 15th and December 17th and had not yet filed a lawsuit.

Rocky Armfield was told repeatedly by Brandon and by his adjuster, Jacquie Garrett, that there were defenses and motions that could be applied to these cases to reduce or eliminate the liability for the defendants and the self-insured trust. For example, Mr. Parraz’s notice of claim had been untimely filed, but Armfield was intent on pushing these political cases to an early mediation and an early monetary settlement.
The lawsuits were settled at the mediation over MCSO’s objections, as follows: Theilen received $99,999; Monica Sandschafer received $99,999; Odhner received $75,000; Nelson $75,000; Bethancourt $50,000; Millan $50,000 and Teran $24,700. Randy Parraz did not settle his claim at that time.

The Republic published a front page article regarding the settlement amount of $424,700 for seven protestors who were booked and released, and where there were no claims of excessive force or physical injuries. One protestor, who had not been booked or taken to jailbut had only received a citation in the mail, received $24,700 in settlement funds at the mediation.

During these five months, John Does I-V, unknown policymakers for Maricopa County, set up a salary structure that protected the salaries of attorneys at General Litigation who had represented county management, but slashed the salaries of attorneys from Special Litigation who had represented Arpaio/MCSO and Thomas/MCAO.

The new salary structure had the effect of punishing attorneys perceived by some as political enemies in the county feud because they represented Sheriff Arpaio, even though that was what they were hired to do.
All three line-attorneys in Special Litigation had their salaries significantly reduced under the new salary structure. As of April 18, 2011, the Special Litigation attorneys received the following reductions in salary: Attorney S. Lee White’s salary was reduced by $29,640(about a 30% reduction); K. Peter Muthig’s salary was reduced by $17,971 and Plaintiff Brandon’s salary was reduced by $7737.

Under the plan developed during the five months of negotiation between Bill Montgomery and county management, all attorneys brought back from General Litigation and Special Litigation were to be placed on probation despite the fact that many had worked for the county for 20 or even 30 years. Plaintiff Brandon was placed on probation despite the fact that she had worked for Maricopa County continually for 33 years.

Tom Liddy said he attended one meeting alone with Assistant County Manager/BudgetDirector/Interim HR Director Sandi Wilson with no written agenda, and she began the meeting by asking, "What are you going to do about Maria Brandon?"

Liddy likened the atmosphere to the post-Civil War, Reconstruction period when there were lynchings.

Despite her many years of public service, Plaintiff Brandon lost her work, her annual salary of about $134,000 and later of about $126,000, her family’s medical insurance, and her reputation. Prior to June 10th, Plaintiff had never been dismissed or asked to leave a job in her life.

The full complaint is posted here.