Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's Spokesman Not Charged in Case Involving Deleted Public Records; Prosecutors Cite Conflicting Evidence

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Gaffney.jpg
Pinal County Sheriff's Office spokesman Tim Gaffney
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu declared his office vindicated after the Pima County Attorney's Office declined to prosecute his director of communications over allegations that he unlawfully deleted public records.

It wasn't exactly a clean-cut victory for Babeu or his office.

A letter from the Pima County Attorney's Office dated July 10 confirms that Tim Gaffney, Babeu's spokesman, "removed thousands of emails from his personal computer archive that were responsive to the Arizona Republic's public records requests and to requests from the U.S.Office of Special Counsel and the Arizona Attorney General."

But, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, writes that there was "conflicting evidence" as to whether Gaffrey knew that the Pinal County's Information Technology Department maintained duplicates of those e-mails when he wiped them from his own computer.

There is "insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Gaffney possessed the ... intent to defraud or deceive," Le Wall writes, adding that it is a "necessary and indispensable element of the crime of tampering or attempted tampering with a public record."

So, they decided not to pursue charges in the case.

Along with proclaiming victory, Babeu also lays the blame for that investigation, and others, on County Manager Fritz Behring.

Babeu says, in his statement, that the latest investigation began on March 9, "when Behring alleged Gaffney had tampered with public records, which is a class six felony.

"He alleged the employee deleted 6,402 records which were tied to pending public records requests," Babeu writes.

(LaWall's letter confirms that Gaffney did remove thousands of e-mails from his computer that were responsive to various public records requests.)

Babeu accuses Behring of using "both misleading and inaccurate facts presented as truths" to launch these investigations.

He says that the director of the county's Information Technology Department "has apologized to members of our office and told us that he was just taking orders from the County Manager on this issue."

New Times left a message for Richard Jones, a spokesman for that department, but he hasn't responded.

Babeu also claims that a Deputy County Attorney told his office that the "County Manager was not following their legal advice on this issue."

A spokesman for the sheriff's office tells New Times that out of respect for that individual, they aren't releasing his name at this time.

The Pinal County Attorney's Office, which did not investigate the case, had no comment.

In his press release, Babeu claims that Behring knew that Gaffney had been told him e-mails were archived, and then points out that policy instructs employees to delete them after they've been persevered elsewhere.

"Pinal County had a formal request from the Attorney General's Office to preserve electronic communication," Behring said in a statement released this afternoon. "When confronted with the possibility that relevant public records may have been deleted, Pinal County acted appropriately in calling for a third-party legal review of the matter."

The AG's office is investigating allegations that Babeu threatened his gay Mexican lover with deportation if he disclosed their relationship. The investigation also includes Babeu's accusations that his ex-boyfriend hacked into his campaign websites and stole Babeu's identity.

It was Babeu who called for those investigations, not Behring.

Babeu is now running for re-election.

The scandal dried up support and campaign contributions for Babeu, a once-rising star in the Republican Party, derailing his hopes to serve as a Congressman and represent an ultra-conservative, family-values constituency. In the wake of the scandal, Babeu also stepped down as co-chair of Republican presumptive nominee Mitt Romney's Arizona campaign.

This inquiry, regarding the e-mails, appears to have started with a letter from an Arizona Republic attorney on February 28 to Gaffney.

That letter requested "email and other electronic communications sent and received by Sheriff Paul Babeu, Elias Johnson and [Gaffney]."

The search for the e-mails was handed off to the Pinal County's Information Technology Department. As they searched for the e-mails, they apparently discovered a bunch of messages had been deleted while public records requests were still pending.

IT officials reportedly told the county manager, who then asked the Pinal County Attorney's Office assistance. Since the Sheriff's Office is the County Attorney's client, Pinal officials punted the case to the Pima County Attorney's Office.

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13 comments
ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

If the average person destroyed records / evidence what would happen to them? Once again, the sheriffs departments act like they are "above' the law. Why isn't this a crime?

Quixano
Quixano

In his Feb 28th letter to Gaffney, the Republic's attorney notes that Gaffney "essentially denied" the Republic's Feb 18th public document request -- Feb 18 being the day of Babeu's notorious "I'm gay" press conference --, asserting that "most of the records were likely deleted from PCSO computer servers due to storage capacity limits."  This wasn't the first time Gaffney denied a public document request on the grounds that the documents had been deleted.  Either he believed what he was saying or he didn't.  If he didn't, and thought that everything in the system was backed up, then he was lying to deny the public access to public records.  If he did think deleted e-mail was unrecoverable, then he believed that his deletion of thousands of pertinent e-mails in the days after he got the public document request would prevent anyone from ever seeing them.  Either way, there's mens rea.  Babeu's thuggish response to all this, to publicly announce his intention to destroy the public servants who blew the whistle on this corruption, says all anyone needs to know about his character.

LostCause
LostCause

Tim Gaffney= Babeu ball-sucker.  Fuck you Gaffney, you faggot ass- licking bitch.  why would you delete ANY emails knowing they are ordered to be saved.   Claiming they were backed up and you were just freeing up space is a lie....you are a piece of shit.

TruConserv
TruConserv

How do you "persevered " emails? LOL!  Nice use of spell check ...

nudogg
nudogg

Holy cheese whiz!  Who among us readers is foolish enough to believe this pile of #$%&.  No wonder Babeu asked Pima County to do the investigation.  From the very beginning I wondered why  is it that he gets to choose who investigates his office.  Certainly, his voting constituents are happy as pie that their hero will continue to be there to save them from the imagined  brown threat.  Those are the only citizens that benifit from this.  They and Maricopa citizens must be related.

Babeu
Babeu

The fact that the emails were deleted at that time, shows it is dirty politics. Everyone knows that the information on all those emails had proof of Paul's corruption along with his team Babeu crew.There is no limit in how far they will go to win the race for Sheriff.They are all liars, cheats, and cover for each other. Lucy Babeu

LostCause
LostCause

So what about all of the emails mistakenly released to the PCSO deputy suing Babeu's office over the Country Thunder debacle? 

  That incident more than all of the others revealed to  me how corrupt the leadership of the PCSO is...They bend over backwords to rescue the drunk son of Tucson PD buddies from jail and reverse charges after he tries to choke out and fight LE making an arrest.....   Picking up a judge from home and driving him to the jail to get a release , driving the punk back to Country Thunder, then  throwing their own deputy under the bus.  

Nicholsdaves
Nicholsdaves

Sick arse Babeu, good to see you back in the spotlight.

 

I hope you have found a new "Brown Sugar" male Hispanic National, or at least a new seventeen year old Boy for your "Lover".

 

What a Sheriff you are?

 

Leave Arizona Pedifile!

 

Hell leave the U.S.!

 

You don't belong.

Georgieboi1
Georgieboi1

You have to wonder what else was in those emails.

 

There is a cover-up here of enormous size.  Babeu's subordinates are not public servants.  They are Babeu's servants.

 

This office wastes taxpayer money on non-necessary equipment, travel and promotional items for Babeu's ego.  There is no effort to make Pinal County safer, the effort is to get Babeu on TV as much as possible.  His staff has done their best to smear any elected or non-elected person that runs afoul of them.  Then if the spotlight is focused on Babeu he cries that "I'm a victim" at anyone who will listen to his bullsh#t.

 

If you want to know what is even more frightening at this time-Babeu is foisting money on Supervisor candidates that will give HIM the power over the day to day running's of the county.  There will be hand-picked county manager and others that will foster Babeu's wet dreams of ultimate power.  

 

Be afraid people, be VERY afraid. 

Eleanor
Eleanor

Ok, who did Babeu blow this time?

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

 @Georgieboi1 And who has created this culture in the Arizona sheriff's department that Babeu and his enablers feel they can get away with anything?

TellTheTruth
TellTheTruth

 @Eleanor The AzRepublic article links to a letter by Brandi Clark, Babeu's HR hack. The letter laments tales of Gaffney having the anguish of nerve pain in his hand that is increasing due to the stress of this investigation.

 

Gaffney had that hand pain as a reason (excuse) for his medical retirement from Mesa PD.

 

Babeu claims Behring is bringing discredit to Babeu's staff.  Babeu's staff?

 

Gaffney, as an upper PCSO employee familiar with the staff, needs to realize that besides nerve pain in the hand, doing that stuff can cause blindness too.  Didn't his Mom warn him about that?

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