On Thursday, Oct. 6, Dr. Richard Carmona
held a press conference to act as a spokesman for Pima County Sheriff's Deputies who have allegedly been blacklisted, threatened, harassed, had their wives harassed and who have been improperly reassigned and demoted by Sheriff Chris Nanos and his cronies. As Carmona put it, the Pima County Sheriffs Department
is taking actions that are "immoral, unethical, and possibly criminal;" or more generally speaking," a reign of terror," a phrase he repeated at least twice.
Carmona began his press conference in the early afternoon in a small conference room at the Viscount Suite Hotel. standing behind him were some of the people for whom he was speaking—fifteen members of Pima County Deputy Sheriffs Association. They wore tee shirts with a small PCDSA logo. A representative of the Tucson Police Officers Association,
Officer McGinnis, was present and at one point declared the union's solidarity with PCDSA. The corrections officers representative was not present, but they too stood in solidarity with the deputies. The audience filled the room, there were about as many people standing as seated. Television media was present.
Carmona identified Nanos, Chief Deputy Chris Radtke and Chief of Staff Bradley Gagnepain, as those whom he believed to be responsible for the "reign of terror." Nanos was originally appointed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors to the post of Sheriff after Clarence Dupnik resigned, he is now running for election to that post. Bradley Gagnepain had retired from the Sheriffs Department, but was brought back by Dupnik to be a "special advisor;" later, Nanos appointed him to fill a position newly created by Nanos called "Chief of Staff." Gagnepain died of a gunshot wound in June of this year, around the time he was named in an FBI corruption investigation of the Pima County Sheriffs Department.
Specifically, the FBI was looking at possible misuse of funds acquired through the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. The funds come from money and property seized under the act and may be spent by law enforcement but only on a narrow list of areas. Illegal spending of RICO money is a felony. On Oct. 10, Chris Radtke was indicted by the FBI for just that. Radtke immediately resigned his post. Sheriff Nanos declined to comment on the matter.
Speaking of the death of Gagnepain, Carmona reported that he received phone calls from deputies at the scene who told him that Nanos and Radtke showed up, took command of the crime scene, and "kept them from doing their job;" specifically, they were not allowed to establish a chain of custody regarding evidence or interview witnesses.
After Carmona made his initial speech, he gave the floor to Deputy Kevin Kempinski, who said he not only refused to be a part of the corruption and cronyism, but was interviewed by the FBI. He said these actions earned him a demotion, a reassignment, and being cut off from support staff. He also recounted episodes of petty harassment, such as deputies assigned to stand in his doorway and stare at him. His wife, who also worked at the department, was also subject to harassment for being, well, his wife. Carmona said that he should be awarded "a medal of valor" for all of that to which he was subjected.
Carmona made the point that law enforcement officers, he repeatedly referred to them as "my family," are professionals who consider it a privilege to serve the community and are disgusted with what has happened to the department. "Leadership by intimidation never works," Carmona said.
Carmona acknowledged it is an election year, but insisted that the event was not political. Rather, he said it was informational because the public deserved to know the facts. He asked that people support the deputies that are risking their careers and their livelihoods by going public.
Jonathan Hoffman is the
Weekly's resident Libertarian columnist.