Maricopa County Posse Vehicles Violate Policy, May Lose Authorization by April 24, Memo Says

suncityposse-vehicles-1.jpg
Image: Ray Stern
Sun City posse vehicles remain parked as of Tuesday.
A March 24 memo sent by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to Valley posse organizations warns that many posse vehicles violate a 2012 policy.

The memo, obtained by the Phoenix New Times this morning, came about a week before the announcement over the weekend by the Sun City West and Sun City posses that they'd suspended operations. The posses later said they were open for business -- but that they couldn't use their vehicles, which remained parked as of Tuesday afternoon.

See also:
-Arpaio's Office: Sun City Posse Halted Vehicle Use Itself Due to "Insurance Glitch"

Marked posse vehicles apparently aren't covered with liability insurance, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office told the public, and the office has been working with county leaders over the last couple of days to solve the problem. Arpaio's office has been "overwhelmed" by the public reaction to news of posse operations being hampered, a news release from the office yesterday stated.

Yet Arpaio's office has been less than transparent in explaining what's going on. The memo obtained by New Times helps explain the issue, but also raises more questions:

"In reviewing the vehicles used by each individual posse, it has come to my attention that your posse has vehicle(s) with government issued license plates," says the memo written by Lieutenant David Toporek, commander of the MCSO's Enforcement Support Division. "This is in violation of Maricopa County Sheriff's Office policy GJ 27.8.C.1.c."

The memo reportedly went out to every posse unit. New Times obtained it from a posse unit, but not the units of Sun City, Sun City West or Westbrook Village.

Toporek included a copy of the most recent version of the MCSO's policies and procedures for posse units. That version is dated July 31, 2012, though, raising the question of why the posses were being notified about it in 2014.

All together, the 57 Maricopa posse units have 115 marked vehicles, most or all of which are registered with government plates.

The Sun City and Sun City West posses are among the larger units, with 14 and 18 marked vehicles respectively. Posses are affiliated closely with the sheriff's office, but are run independently as non-profit businesses. Most of their funding comes from public contributions. Vehicles are purchased and outfitted by the individual posse units.

"You must make arrangements to have these vehicle(s) re-registered immediately," Toporek's letter to the posses goes on. "Upon completion, you must contact the Enforcement Support Division and make arrangements to have the vehicles inspected per MCSO policy GJ 27.8.D."

The latter policy reference was also included in the July 2012 policy memo sent to posses. Apparently, these required vehicles inspections have not been occurring.

Finally, Toporek lets the posses know about a looming deadline to fix their vehicle's registration problems:

"If the vehicles are not re-registered by April 24, 2014, they will no longer be authorized for use by the Sheriff's Office."

Arpaio's office has failed to release detailed information about the posses' vehicle problem, and some of the office's announcements conflict with details coming from the posses and county administration.

For instance, on Saturday, Arpaio spokesman Chris Hergstrom told the public, "This is a preliminary posse decision relating to a county policy. The Sheriff's Office is looking into the situation and reviewing the issues with county administrators."

suncitypossemembers2-300.jpg
Sun City posse members pose for a group shot after a Tuesday meeting.
The county says none of its policies have changed.

And Toporek's March 24 memo to the posses seems to indicate the problem is due to a Sheriff's Office policy. However, it stands to reason that before the July 2012 prohibition on posse vehicles with government plates was ordered, Sheriff's Office officials would have conferred with county risk managers.

On Monday, Arpaio spokeswoman Lisa Allen issued a statement claiming that Sun City and Sun City West were the only two posses that have "taken it upon themselves to park their vehicles until a solution is found."

The New Times has not independently verified the statement.

Yet when we talked to Allen this morning, she said she didn't know whether or not posse units still using their marked vehicles were covered by liability insurance.

In any case, Toporek's memo indicates that posse vehicles with government plates are violating policy when they hit the road.

At a Sun City posse headquarters meeting this morning, members -- mostly white-haired folks who live in the senior-living community -- were told by Captain Roberta Lambin to "rest up" during the no-vehicle crisis and be ready for a lot of catch-up work when the problem is resolved. Representatives of Arpaio's office thanked the group for their service and expressed concern that the lack of posse patrol units on the street would mean more calls for service to the Sheriff's Office.

One woman asked whether posse members were still covered by insurance if they were injured while working a special event. She was told she'd be covered by "worker's comp."

The Sheriff's Office has not yet responded to a request for comment about Toporek's memo.

A new email sent to posse units this morning from the Sheriff's Office asks for information about their marked vehicles, likely in preparation for negotiations with an insurance company about covering the posse vehicles.

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Ray Stern on Twitter at @RayStern.


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68 comments
PosseScam
PosseScam

Who is making sure they are not using the vehicles and possibly gas keys fo personal use? Are posse members required to submit mileage reports? Who does the maintenance on the vehicles and who pays for it?

JesterJackson
JesterJackson

It seems a lot of people don't realize that if they drive a vehicle they don't own and there is an accident the vehicle's insurance pays first, then the driver's own insurance policy. So if you drive a vehicle that is uninsured then your own policy has to pay out first. When that runs out you can believe the lawyers will go after your personal assets. Call your insurance company and ask your agent in order to verify if you don't believe me.

getmeouttahere
getmeouttahere

Two things:


First, correct me if I am wrong, but isn't Arpaio's head birther, Mike Zullo, a used-car dealer? Is it possible that he has something to do with this mess?


Second, does anyone else think that this might be related in some way to that Posse member who got shot trying to help a wounded Phoenix PD officer a few months back? I've read and heard various places that the poor guy is going to need full-time care, and his family wants the county to pony up for at least part of it (they don't wanna, of course.) The (very) cynical part of me wonders if that incident didn't make the county realize they have gaping holes in their liability, and this is just one that they are now frantically trying to close. 


bobunf
bobunf

These 115 (or is it 145?) vehicles have been driven around the County for years with no insurance?


Some of these hundreds of old folks who drove these cars had to say, "Where's the insurance card? The car is insured, isn't it?" And someone had to say, "Yes, of course it's insured," and provide some assurance about the lack of an insurance card.

Either a lot of people in the various posse groups at various times lied, or - far, far more likely - someone up the chain of command, lied to all these people over all these years.

Who? 

And, what will be done about it? 

This isn't just a Maricopa County matter (Montgomery? the Board of Supervisors?), but also a state matter. The insurance requirement is a state law. Where's the DMV, the Attorney General (good ol' Tom Horne), the Governor?

HaddieNuff
HaddieNuff

Well that's rather confusing. I thought all vehicles must carry at least liability insurance to be registered in the state. 

Slappy
Slappy

Equip their motorized hoverounds with a police package.   

JesterJackson
JesterJackson

If the vehicles that the posse members drive are NOT covered by the county then the owners of the vehicles would be PERSONALLY liable for any bodily injury or property damage to others. If the accident were big enough the owner/driver could lose their house in a lawsuit, all their savings etc. scary thought when you are that old. I wonder if they are learning it the hard way.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

Let's see if either Judge Snow or MontyPug does anything about this latest round of MCSO bullshit. TBH I'm not holding my breath regarding MontyPug doing his job and securing indictments against the posse members and the Fetid Fossil of MCSO....

And with the date with Judge Snow approaching the day after tomorrow, the old man really has some shit to worry about.

Where's Robert (JAFfy) to cry like a 4 year old that his hero doesn't defraud the government and commit other crimes against the taxpayers of Maricopa County?

vagabond545454
vagabond545454

Neo-Nazi posse? White Supremacist Posse? No surprise birds of a feather tend to flock together!

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

um?????? just a thought, but isnt that fictitious plates? that is a crime right? and the person who ran the agency that was providint false documentation to get those fictitious plates would be committing a crime..........(possibility of identity theft and misrepresentation since they were claiming and plating them as government vehicles) Joe's baby and  brainchild the posse (according to him), so he would be liable. he then misrepresented the fact that they were insured and had them driving vehicles that were not covered.......(another crime) and he did this all while appealing a case he lost and using our money without the BOS approval (theft..........another crime).....................................................................JAFfy? JAFfy, where are you? JAFfy.........i need to hear you ask your trademark line "WHAT PART OF ILLEGAL DOESNT HE GET?" no wonder JAFfy lives in Fresno..............there is no way he could afford to pay even a fraction of the law suits Joe racks up on a pump jockey/bathroom attendant paycheck

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@bobunf  

The way I read it, they've been covered by Maricopa County's "self-insurance", because they have County plates.  That ends April 24 because they're not really supposed to have the plates.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@HaddieNuff  

Vehicles with County plates are generally covered by the County's "self-insurance", but since they've realized that these vehicles shouldn't have County plates, they're no longer covered.


valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JesterJackson  


Amazing that at least three people seem to believe that the people who drive the vehicles own them.



valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@MaskedMagician1967  

This round of "MCSO bullshit" is actually the MCSO telling the posse units that they're violating MCSO policy.   If a person is driving a vehicle that was registered in a way that violates MCSO policy, what has that person done that merits criminal indictment?


WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@MaskedMagician1967  Hey, but VN IS on the zello story pointing out typos and logic she's too lost to comprehend!

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@danzigsdaddy  

Technically, it's not a crime, because the plates were legally issued. It's a policy violation, and probably an inadvertent one, at that, but I wouldn't put it past the blowhard to see how much he could get away with.


I know that back in the '80s, decisions about which not-quite-government agencies could have County plates depended on who you knew at the MVD.  It sounds like they firmed up the policy, but haven't been very aggressive about enforcing it.


WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@danzigsdaddy  Yes, by obtaining government plates for non-government vehicles there is CLEARLY a crime, and Joke Show do a "sweep" of the criminals in his prune posse! 


Let's see, perjury, identity theft, and a number of other crimes for EACH of the 100+ plates!  Joke will need to set up a "Convicted posse members" tent in Tent City!

bobunf
bobunf

@valleynative @bobunf  If I get duplicate license plates for my neighbors car, or just take his plates, and put them on my car, I don't think his insurance goes along with the plates.  

The posse vehicles are not supposed to have County plates.  Putting fake plates on, only puts on fake insurance.  

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@valleynative say what you will, agree or disagree, but i respect the fact that Sun City parked them all till this is resolved

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

Arpaio is more along the lines of a criminal Cozz...

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@WhoKnows heres the question i dont think anybody has really given much thought to (and its so obvious, someone should have noticed it). if Joe has been telling people there was insurance..........that is because there needs to be some book keeping accounting for things like insurance, gas, maintinance, etc etc. that means Joe was saying there was insurance and someone had to be figuring that costs money..............right? that means money was allocated for it.................................................where did the money go? book keepers dont assume everything they have to account for is free, so they were taking in money..................WHERE DID IT GO????? IS THIS HOW JOE RAISED HIS RECORD $5MIL??????????????? is this the next addition to the $100 mil he already lost and had to be covered with creative book keeping?


valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@bobunf @valleynative 

These weren't illegally obtained plates, and your neighbor's insurance policy is not remotely similar to the "self-insurance" provided by the County to all vehicles bearing county plates.

These plates were issued legally, but in violation of MCSO (not Maricopa County, and not MVD) policy.

As I understand it, they had (and have) "real" insurance until April 24, paid for by the County and, I believe, charged to the MCSO budget.

This really isn't rocket science.

Hating Joe (with which I sympathize) is no reason to simply assume that everything associated with him is a crime.


WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@valleynative  They are owned by the posse, which is "owned" by it's posse members....


Is the Posse set up as an LLC or Corportaion?  I doubt it!

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@WhoKnows @valleynative 

That is, by far, the stupidest thing I've read today.

I'm not going to bother to explain why that's complete nonsense.  Ask around.


WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@valleynative  VN, if the cars are owned by the posse, they actually are therefore owned by the members of that posse....  Not one member, but owned by all members....

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@WhoKnows @valleynative@JesterJackson The posse unit would be liable for the damages caused by an accident involving a posse vehicle in the course of duty.  Surely you .. nevermind.


The important factor here is that the person to whom I was responded believed that the vehicles were owned by the individual posse members, and you seemed to agree with him.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@valleynative @WhoKnows @JesterJackson  If the cars are uninsured (which seems to be the case right now),  Whoever is driving, as well as who owns the vehicle, could be sued for everything they've got...  Surely you must understand that VN!  (oh wait..  you don't understand much...)

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@WhoKnows @valleynative@JesterJackson 

Read the post to which I was responding, genius. JesterJackson was claiming that the posse members, as the owners of the vehicles, would be personally liable and could lose their homes. 

Context is important.

 

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@valleynative @WhoKnows @JesterJackson  


You are the one that claim "individual", little parrot.  They vehicles are privately owned - and that can mean a group (like a posse) OR an individual.


You just don't know when to give up with your BS, do you?

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@WhoKnows @valleynative@JesterJackson 

You're saying I'm stupid, but you think that unless a vehicle is owned by the government, that it must be owned by a private individual?


This sort of amusement is why I bother responding to you.


WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@valleynative @WhoKnows @JesterJackson  They are owned PRIVATELY.  They are NOT owned by ANY government agency.  Like Fed Ex trucks are owned PRIVATELY!


Dang, you cut class the day they handed out brains.....

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@WhoKnows @valleynative@JesterJackson  

"Vehicles are purchased and outfitted by the individual posse units."

Don't tell me -- you think "posse unit" means an individual posse member, don't you, you fucking genius?

 

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@WhoKnows

I have no doubt that you thought that all of your elementary and high school teachers were babbling nonsense, too, didn't you, and still haven't realized that the problem is on your end.

 

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@valleynative @MaskedMagician1967  I don't understand parrots either VN.  That doesn't mean the parrots make sense!  They just babble.....

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@MaskedMagician1967  

Of course you do, since you don't understand half of what I say, and what you do understand shows how foolish you are.


danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@valleynative dont know why it didnt post (i replied on my phone at work) but i said i didnt know all that and thanked you for the info

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@danzigsdaddy  

I suspect that having County plates means that the vehicle is covered by some sort of blanket County insurance policy.  In that case, insurance was actually bought and paid for by the County, and constitutes another way that Joe is (indirectly) misusing our taxes.   Arpaio and MCSO wouldn't have seen any of this money.  They don't pay the bills for the posse units.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

Zigs, it sounds like MCSO is like the Titanic....it's already hit the iceberg and is slowly taking on water....

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@WhoKnows @Flyer9753 @danzigsdaddy  True... I suspect as more and more comes out and pressure increases you will start to see more people in MCSO looking to abandon a sinking ship and try to secure a life preserver by rolling over... the finger pointing is going to get very interesting.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@Flyer9753 it was barely the tip of the iceberg..............and dont forget..........about 70 to 80 percent of the iceberg is not visible

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@danzigsdaddy  People are aware of it, the problem being it's going to be very difficult to prove that Joe knew.


At this point, absent a smoking gun email or something like that, all that can be done is to make note of all these incidents and at a later date, find a prosecutor who has the balls to file the charges and push for them to be tried together, rather than separate, then argue that it shows an overall pattern that proves he knew and acted with malfeasance.. very hard to prove which is my most prosecutors will not go the distance.


All the evidence that was destroyed in Melendres?? I doubt that even was the tip of the iceberg that is destroyed evidence and docs at MCSO, about MCSO.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@danzigsdaddy @WhoKnows  Don't forget that the Clown Sheriff admitted to ILLEGALLY misspending $99m in jail funds.  They has two sets of books (just like the mob!).


Hopefully this time those who's job it is to enforce the laws will be arrested for ignoring the law!

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