$200,000 settles suit against Arpaio
Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 20, 2002 12:00 AM

Maricopa County has paid $200,000 to settle a 
lawsuit filed by a former deputy who claimed 
that Sheriff Joe Arpaio forced him off the job 
because he talked to the media and went to county 
prosecutors with corruption allegations.

Steve Barnes, once vice president of the Deputies' 
Law Enforcement Association, sued Arpaio and 
the Sheriff's Office two years ago, saying he 
was harassed and demoted after he became a whistle-blower.

Among other things, Barnes went to County Attorney Rick 
Romley to report that sheriff's deputies were being 
used to wiretap Tom Bearup, a former Arpaio aide who 
became the sheriff's political nemesis. 

Barnes also warned Romley, who has feuded with the 
Sheriff's Office sporadically, of rumors that he 
had been targeted for surveillance.

The allegations led to an investigation by the FBI, 
which found insufficient evidence of illegal wiretapping.

Barnes could not be reached Tuesday. His attorney, 
Phil Flemming, declined to discuss the case. Arpaio 
and his chief deputy, David Hendershott, were 
unavailable for comment.

In past interviews, they denied that Barnes was 
targeted for political reasons and said the 
surveillance was because Bearup's son, Patrick, 
had become a criminal suspect. He was subsequently 
arrested and sentenced to prison in connection with 
a shooting.

Barnes is one of several former sheriff's employees 
who have sued after being fired or forced out because 
they publicly criticized the Sheriff's Office. 

Employee representatives say Arpaio and Hendershott 
have a history of discrediting and eliminating 
"dime-droppers" who speak with the media.

Like others, Barnes claims he was accused of 
misconduct, subjected to an internal affairs 
investigation, polygraphed and then transferred 
to an unwanted post. Barnes' lawsuit says Arpaio 
and Hendershott initially went after him because 
he told The Arizona Republic about problems in 
the Sheriff's Office, including a lack of 
deputy pay raises.

He was later investigated on suspicion of altering 
a crime scene, and for making comments about 
politically motivated surveillance.

The county denied all allegations and, according 
to court files, planned to counter by accusing 
Barnes of misconduct.

But the defendants suffered a setback in May when 
two active deputies gave depositions confirming 
that they were ordered to watch Bearup, and that 
they were concerned about the propriety of that 

About the same time, U.S. District Court Judge 
Paul Rosenblatt rejected the county's motion for 
dismissal and ordered the case to trial.

More than 50 witnesses were scheduled to testify, 
including Arpaio, Romley, FBI agents, a judge, a 
court administrator and numerous deputies. But 
that prospect evaporated 10 days ago when Rosenblatt 
formally ended the dispute based on a settlement.

Although terms of the agreement were not public, 
Maricopa County spokesman Al Macias confirmed that 
the Board of Supervisors approved payment of 
$200,000 at a meeting Nov. 6.

Reach the reporter at 
or (602) 444-8874.

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