It's Party Time!

ON MAY 18, an anonymous "citizen" followed his daughter to a party at a rural home on Tucson's far west side. What the man claims he saw prompted him to call 911.

He reported there were adults and juveniles consuming alcohol and smoking marijuana.

Several Pima County Sheriff's deputies and a county park ranger responded to the call. They found dozens of parked cars blocking a residential street. Entering a long driveway jammed with vehicles, the officers found a boisterous party underway with an estimated 150 to 200 juveniles, beer cans and plastic cups in hand. The deputies later reported that bottles, cans and beer cartons littered the area.

Feature When the deputies arrived, many of the teens fled into the desert or into the house, which belonged to José Luís Machado, a Pima County Superior Court judge pro-tem who served as Santa Cruz County Attorney from 1985 to 1993.

Sheriffs' deputies reported Machado was uncooperative--and even obstructive--that night.

Usually deputies will just break up such a party, make sure the juveniles are not driving drunk, confiscate the alcohol and leave, says Sheriff Department Lt. Oscar Miranda. In this case, however, due to the large number of juveniles, their obvious intoxication, the abundance of visible alcohol and the fact that Machado refused to break up the party and was "argumentative and uncooperative," deputies were ethically bound to check on the welfare and safety of the juveniles, Miranda says.

According to official reports, Machado told deputies he'd originally planned a party for adult friends that night, and that he had no intentions of inviting teens. But his two sons had attended a Salpointe Catholic High School game that evening, he added, and after the game was over a bunch of their friends followed them home.

When Deputy David Andrews asked Machado if he was aware some of the teens were drinking alcohol on his property, Machado reportedly said he wasn't. And when Andrews asked if he was able to see all the empty beer bottles and beer containers strewn around his yard, Machado replied he was too busy monitoring the party to have noticed, according to Andrews' subsequent report.

As Deputy Justin Weigel recalls Machado's interaction with Andrews:

"The homeowner, Mr. Machado, stated that there were no underage persons consuming alcohol at the residence. He then stated that we had no business being there and that we were trespassing. At this point Mr. Machado took off across the patio and confronted Deputy Andrews and began shouting at Deputy Andrews that he had 'no fucking right' to be there and that we were trespassing. I began moving in that direction also due to Mr. Machado's fluctuating mental state; i.e., calm and cooperative, to furious and erratic."

Andrews arrested Machado. As the deputy later recounted the incident in his report:

"I then advised Mr. Machado that I was placing him under arrest for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He again made a statement that he didn't need me telling him what the law was, and that I was making a big mistake. I informed him that he'd be able to take the matter up with a judge. Mr. Machado stated that he was a judge, as well as an attorney. As I was placing the handcuffs on Mr. Machado, he made a statement to the effect that this is the biggest mistake of my career."

Sheriff's officials say they find it hard to believe this was an impromptu party and that 150 to 200 teens just followed the Machado boys home, that Joe Machado was unaware the teens were drinking while they were there, and that he didn't notice that some of the teens were drunk.

Machado was eventually charged with 15 counts of allowing minors to drink on an unlicensed premises, as well as seven counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was taken to Pre-Trial Services and booked.

BUT MACHADO HAS a different account. In a complaint to the Sheriff's Department, he accuses deputies of "an outrageous abuse of authority" involving false arrest, illegal detention, entry into a home without a warrant, use of unnecessary and excessive force, extortion and making threats.

Machado concedes there was a party with what he estimates to have been about 70 juveniles at his home that night; although he maintains he never intended to have such a party--he says he'd planned an adult party to celebrate his older son's graduation from Salpointe. Machado has an invitation list which includes the names of numerous Tucson Police Department officials, as well as members of the state Department of Public Safety, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department, and many attorneys.

He contends that at about 10 p.m., after the Salpointe game, his son called to say he was bringing some friends home. Machado says the teens just kept coming--and coming. He adds that even though it was a large group, the kids were respectful and polite, and none appeared to be drinking. Most of the adult partygoers left when the teens arrived, he recalls.

Machado says he and his wife Lourdes and some other adults were monitoring the party. At one point, he says, he caught some kids trying to sneak in some beer, but turned them away. Around midnight, he says, he told his son there were too many kids, they were getting too loud, and the party had to break up in the next half hour. He never got the chance to follow through, because shortly after midnight, the deputies arrived in force.

Machado--and other partygoers--complain deputies arrived with an attitude. Machado says he was arrested less than two minutes after they showed up.

He admits he questioned their authority to break up the party, but adds he told them he was willing to do so. He also admits asking deputies to leave his property. But Machado says the deputies started yelling that everyone was going to be arrested if they didn't leave immediately.

In his complaint, Machado adds, "I told him (Deputy Andrews) I did not want him going into the house, and that he had no right to do so...I told him I'd already asked everyone to leave, and they were doing so...He asked who I was, and I told him I was the owner. He sarcastically then asked if I knew the law and what he could do. I told him I did. He then said, 'What do we have here, an attorney or a judge?' I told him, 'As a matter of fact, officer, I've served as both a prosecutor and a pro-tem.' He asked if I was impersonating a law enforcement officer.

"I told him I was not. He asked for ID, and I told him I had none on me. Then, literally inches from my face, he told me no one was going to challenge his authority. He told me, 'You're under arrest,' and handcuffed me.

"As he was putting me into the back seat, I asked him what I'd been arrested for. He told me I was not under arrest, but was being detained. I asked him for what. He ignored me and walked away."

Machado says he spent the next couple of hours in the back of the patrol car, 150 yards from his house. He says his wife didn't even know where he was, nor was she allowed out of the house. At one point, he alleges, he overheard deputies discussing what, precisely, he should be charged with. Proper police procedure, Machado says, requires a law officer first to have a reason before making an arrest.

Once Machado was handcuffed and out of the way, deputies say, they tried to detain anyone who appeared to be drunk to prevent them from driving. They also called for a portable breath-testing instrument and lined up the teens for testing.

According the narrative of Deputy Larry Villalobos, "Everything was going smooth until we got to this one juvenile who became very belligerent and refused to blow (into the portable breathalyzer.)"

Deputies and kids, who were interviewed separately, seem to agree this was when the situation got out of hand. The recent Salpointe graduate chose to become "loud and argumentative," according to sheriff's reports. Rather than comply with deputies' directions, he continued to be disruptive. Deputies arrested him. Lourdes Machado was able to get a video camera and tape at least part of the arrest.

Several pages of deputies' reports describe their attempt to arrest and handcuff the student, who resisted their efforts. Three deputies later claimed to have been injured in the altercation, and they report the young man was eventually "cap-stunned"--cop lingo meaning he was hit with pepper spray--into submission.

Officers say this incited other teens. According to Deputy Weigel's report:

"We had approximately 20 individuals becoming increasingly vocal and possibly combative outside the residence. The crowd was chanting things like, 'This is fucked up, this is bullshit, what are you guys doing, don't let them arrest you....'"

According to Deputy Karl Woolridge's report: "At this point there were only several subjects that had not been administered preliminary breath tests. The other juveniles who had been cited and released and the juveniles who had been in the house had all now rejoined into a group. They were very excited, very argumentative and very disruptive. Based on their actions and the number of juveniles compared to the number of deputies, I advised Sgt. [Geraldine] Gryczkowski that it probably would be in our best interests to just leave without attempting to separate the juveniles and determine which ones had not been given breath tests. At this time the deputies left the scene."

Fifteen kids who were tested for alcohol at the party were found to have it in their systems--seven of them were under age 18. Some of those tested had blood alcohol levels over .10 (the determination that an adult is legally drunk when driving a motor vehicle). They were cited and released.

Some angry parents point out that the kids who fled into the desert or hid in Machado's home were not arrested, while the teens who cooperated with the officers and took their breathalyzer tests were cited.

Meanwhile, the legal battle continues.

SHERIFF'S OFFICIALS STAND by their decision to bust the party, citing the need to check on the welfare and safety of the children. Eight months after the incident, however, there is still an ongoing internal investigation concerning the deputies' behavior that night. Of course they decline to answer reporters' questions.

Although he believes he'll be exonerated, Machado says it's been the most embarrassing moment of his career.

He says he thinks Deputy Andrews "jumped the gun" in arresting him. In his letter to Sheriff's Department, Machado complains: "They arrived convinced that this was a juvenile party of long duration and that adults were aware of the juveniles drinking. When they found no evidence in support of what they thought, they simply did not know how to react. Once Officer Andrews placed me under arrest for 'challenging his authority,' he, along with the rest of the officers, were beyond the point of no return. They thereafter set out to justify what Andrews did.

"They obviously could not do so, and succeeded only in effectuating more violations and misconduct."

Machado also claims officers contradicted and perjured themselves in their follow-up incident reports. He claims that while he was in a Pre-Trial Services holding room, Andrews came in and shut the door. Andrews allegedly told Machado that while he'd been detained, Machado's wife had been "uncooperative" and had, in fact, videotaped some of what was going on at the home. Machado claims Andrews told him they were going to keep this confidential, and there was no need to call the press. Machado also alleges that Andrews told him he should convince his wife not to call the press, and that it wouldn't be good for him if he did. Machado says he felt he was being threatened.

Two days later, sheriff's deputies arrived with a warrant to confiscate the video tape, which The Weekly has been able to view. The tape shows a young man pointing at a deputy and requesting another breathalyzer test. One deputy is yelling, "Shut your mouth! Shut your mouth!" Seemingly without provocation, the deputy grabs the youth and slams him into a wall.

Machado has not only filed a complaint with the Pima County Sheriff's Department, he's asked the FBI to investigate. He muses that no matter what the outcome may be, he holds out no hope of being asked to serve as a judge pro-tem again; and he says he resents that forevermore, when asked if he's ever been arrested, he'll have to say "yes."

UNLIKE MACHADO, THE students say they were aware of the party a week ahead of time; they admit they knew there would be alcohol there, and that everyone was invited to spend the night to avoid drinking and driving.

All but two of the teens cited were students at Salpointe Catholic High School. Many are athletes--football, basketball, volleyball, soccer. Many of them are "good students" and "popular" kids. Some maintain they did nothing wrong; and they certainly don't seem to think they've managed to damage a man's career.

Among the teens' comments:

• "The deputies were like the Gestapo. Hey, we have parties every weekend and TPD just checks to make sure the driver's not drunk and sends us home."

• "It was a private home, we should've been able to drink if we wanted to."

• "I want my day in court."

• "The cops were fucked."

• "It was graduation night, of course we were drinking."

• "The cops fucked him up for no reason."

The same videotape showing the young man's arrest reveals juveniles questioning an officer after the arrest. The teens are rude, spouting profanity; and, obviously having watched too many TV cop shows, they're shown questioning the officer about their Miranda rights and commenting about how far away pepper spray must be used.

All teens The Weekly interviewed said Machado did not supply the alcohol, and Machado has many more sworn statements from partygoers saying the same thing.

In court, Machado has made a series of motions to suppress evidence, to force compliance with discovery rules and requests for results of the Sheriff's Department internal investigation. A status hearing was set for Friday, February 6, and a "soft" trial date has been set for April. But Machado has not attended any of the hearings--he says it's all just too embarrassing and painful.

The juveniles are at various stages in the courts. Some have accepted diversion (which means their cases will be dismissed after they perform community service and undergo counseling); others have pled guilty; still others are fighting the charges. Machado offered the services of his office mates, attorneys Brick Storts and James Glanville, to represent the juveniles pro-bono.

MANY STUDENTS AND parents complain of apparently increasing drug and alcohol problems among Salpointe students. At least for a certain crowd at Salpointe, they say, there are parties every weekend.

School Resource Officer David Silva agrees that seems to be the case for some students. He suggests some Salpointe teens are more mobile than others, perhaps because their parents have more money. He says it seems alcohol and marijuana are the drugs of choice at the private high school. But, he adds, Salpointe administrators have diligently addressed the situation.

Silva says administrators have encouraged him to follow up when they become aware of a party. The school has sent home notices to parents warning them of the dangers of hosting or encouraging these events. Besides reminding kids of the dangers of alcohol and drug use, he says he explains to them, "Just like it isn't OK for your parents to give you permission to shoplift, your parents have no right to give you permission to drink--it's against the law if you're under 21, under any circumstances."

Charlotte Harris, Salpointe spokeswoman, says administrators have expelled students caught using drugs and alcohol. She adds the school offers a substance abuse course incorporated into its required Lifeskills/Theology course.

One parent whose teenager was cited at the Machado party insisted the youth go through the diversion program, as a way to ensure he took responsibility for what he'd done. The parent observes many kids at Salpointe today have "become accustomed to a lifestyle that they didn't have to earn, that we've worked hard to provide them with."

It could take months, even years, to sort this mess out, But it's probably safe to say that this is one party that no one wishes he'd attended.


SOME SALPOINTE HIGH School students and their parents complain of a different standard for athletes, cheerleaders and "rich" kids.

Salpointe football players, they claim, are the worst offenders. They're so "out of control" that, for safety reasons, according to some students, football and basketball players cannot use the school's weight room at the same time.

Parents say they've acted as "body guards" for the basketball coaches and players, due to problems with the football team. And they claim administrators fail to act upon their complaints of students' poor or outrageous behavior.

While the school requires students to promise to avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs, some parents and students note that certain students seem to violate the pledge with impunity.

Many pointed to an incident last year which they say illustrates some of the problems at Salpointe:

The mother of a freshman basketball player received a phone call threatening her son. The call was made by a football player, who identified himself by name.

Frightened and upset that someone would threaten her son, she was able to trace the call and found it had been made from another Salpointe student's home during a party.

The incident was reported to the police. Salpointe administrators were later notified of the call, and police gave them a copy of their incident report.

No action was taken--the threatening student continued to play football, and he still attends Salpointe.

On the other hand, the parents of the basketball player decided to remove their son from Salpointe, sending him instead to a local high school.

Salpointe recently played that school in a basketball match. Witnesses say Salpointe fans behaved shamefully. They say Salpointe fans yelled obscenities at the young man and called him a "traitor" and other offensive names. One of the youth's former teachers, a nun, also reportedly called him a traitor and refused to speak with him.

The former Salpointe student has been described as a fine young man--religious, friendly, a good student and an all-American boy. On the other hand, the young man who threatened him, kids say, continues to pile up incident after incident at Salpointe with apparent impunity.

The former Salpointe student comes from a family of modest means; the young man who threatened him reportedly comes from a family with money.

Another recent incident involved a soccer player "red-carded" at a state championship game who refused to leave the field and cussed out an official. Only after officials threatened the team with forfeiture was he pulled from the field. He remained at Salpointe.

Parents and students also complain of intoxicated cheerleaders who brought alcohol to the school's Winter Ball, but who were allowed to remain on the cheer squad.

And nearby residents complain of Salpointe students who gather daily outside school grounds to smoke cigarettes and marijuana, within clear view of the school.

Students and parents alike muse that Salpointe is probably no different than any other high school in the city. However, they point out that because Salpointe is a private school, administrators have the power to oust misbehaving students. But no one seems to be able to explain why they don't.

One source offers, "Maybe when a kid gets in trouble, suddenly the track is resurfaced, or some computers are added. The kid continues as if nothing ever happened."

And one critical parent says the situation at Salpointe can be summed up by a sarcastic shout from a Canyon Del Oro High School fan about a Salpointe team during a recent game: "NICE BEHAVIOR FOR A CHRISTIAN SCHOOL!"

--Vicki Hart TW

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