Testimony: Arpaio Ignored Advice To Abandon Informant's Investigation

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 7:42pm
Updated: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 8:49pm
(Photo by Jude Joffe-Block - KJZZ)
The Sandra Day O'Connor United States Courthouse.

In court testimony Friday in the contempt case against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a sergeant gave more details about the sheriff’s mysterious dealings with a confidential informant. Some of the sergeant’s testimony diverged from the sheriff’s account.

Sergeant Travis Anglin’s testimony was notable since it was the first time anyone who worked directly with confidential informant Dennis Montgomery has taken the stand. What exactly Montgomery was investigating on behalf of the sheriff has been a topic of debate in this contempt hearing, since some evidence suggests Montgomery may have been investigating the judge in the case, U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow.

Snow is holding an ongoing contempt of court case against Arpaio and four others for violating court orders in a racial profiling case. If the sheriff was indeed using Montgomery to try and investigate the judge in an effort to get him removed from the case, it would be relevant to the question of whether the sheriff was trying to defy Snow.

Arpaio and his chief deputy have maintained that Montgomery was hired because he had information that the CIA and National Security Agency were hacking into the bank accounts of 150,000 Maricopa County residents. Montgomery is a former federal intelligence contractor who claimed he had taken data while working at the CIA that would prove the alleged wrongdoing.

But documents reveal Montgomery also provided the sheriff with timelines and flowcharts purporting to show communication and collusion between Snow, a law firm representing plaintiffs in the case and the U.S. Department of Justice, which had its own racial profiling case against the sheriff.

Arpaio has denied in his testimony that Montgomery’s flowcharts and timelines constituted an investigation of Snow. The sheriff has testified he believed Snow was connected to the Montgomery investigation because Snow was one of the victims of the alleged bank fraud.

Anglin testified he was assigned to help investigate Montgomery’s claims that the CIA was illegally harvesting banking data from the American public. Since Montgomery was based in Seattle, Anglin, a detective and a volunteer posse member traveled to Seattle to work with him there.

Anglin said he was skeptical about working with Montgomery after reading articles online that alleged Montgomery had previously defrauded the federal government.

Anglin testified when it became clear that Montgomery was offering information on Snow, he asked Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan if he was being asked to investigate a federal judge. He said Sheridan responded, “On no uncertain terms are you to investigate Judge Snow or the birth certificate,” which was a reference to Arpaio's investigation into the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

Anglin added that Sheridan did not tell Montgomery not to investigate the judge.

Anglin testified he had no knowledge of the theory that Arpaio testified to, that Snow was an alleged victim of the alleged bank fraud. He did say the sheriff asked him more than once “whether any of the information Montgomery produced referenced Judge Snow.”

Anglin said it never did, and he said he explained to the sheriff that was not the purpose of the investigation. Anglin also testified that he was not aware of anything that would suggest there ever was an investigation into collusion between Snow, the DOJ and the plaintiffs' lawyers.

The sergeant also testified he warned Arpaio that, “[Montgomery] wasn’t producing, we were spending a great deal of money, I didn’t think this investigation would pass the headline test and I thought we should cut our losses.”

But Anglin said the sheriff ignored his advice.

According to Anglin, the sheriff trusted the advice of volunteer posse member Mike Zullo, who wanted to continue the investigation. Zullo was also the leader on the sheriff’s investigation of Obama’s birth certificate.

Ultimately Anglin was reassigned off the Montgomery investigation. 

The contempt of court case resumes on Oct. 13.