MCSO Deputy's Activities Could Impact Other Cases

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 6:15am
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The criminal investigation into the bizarre activities of a dead Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy may have an impact on other criminal cases. 

Deputy Ramon "Charley" Armendariz died of an apparent suicide earlier this month. 

When news reports surfaced that Armendariz had a stash of drugs, along with hundreds of IDs and license plates in his home, attorney Paul Charlton took notice. 

Charlton, a former U.S. Attorney for Arizona, now represents a client who was arrested by the sheriff’s office for alleged ID theft associated with employing unauthorized immigrants at the Uncle Sam’s restaurant chain. 

One of the deputies involved in the case, according to Charlton’s review of records, was none other than Armendariz.

"I am quite certain that it is beyond a theory that Mr. Armendariz was involved in shaking down individuals, stealing their vehicles and stealing their IDs, which is beyond ironic, given that the sheriff's office has accused our client falsely we believe of identity theft," Charlton said. "Their own officers were involved in that crime."

That’s of course Charlton’s opinion, since it’s still not clear what Armendariz was doing with the IDs. 

MCSO's Human Smuggling Unit, of which Armendariz was a part, has arrested hundreds of unauthorized immigrants on forgery and ID theft charges for working under fake Social Security numbers or identities.

Charlton said he is asking the state to dismiss charges against his client until more is known about the alleged corruption in the sheriff’s office. 

Meanwhile, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery is checking to see if names on the IDs discovered at Armendariz's residence match any court records.

"If we find people who had charges submitted because of investigations involving Armendariz, where these items are associated, then we are going to have to disclose that information and assess on our ability to prosecute the case," Montgomery said.

Montgomery says the first step in all this is to find out what exactly Armendariz was up to.

The federal judge overseeing the racial profiling case against Sheriff Joe Arpaio has ordered the sheriff's office to share materials from its investigation into Armendariz with the U.S. Attorney's office and the county attorney's office.