Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff’s Office Monitoring Costs Taxpayers Millions Over 18 Months

(Jul. 25, 2015) — Invoices paid by the Maricopa County, AZ Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to Warshaw & Associates, the firm appointed by a federal judge to oversee the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) as a result of a civil lawsuit, Melendres, et al v. Arpaio, et al, total in the millions of dollars over the course of the last 18 months.

The Post & Email obtained the invoices through a public records request made to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and received them from Public Information Officer Fields Moseley on July 8, 2015.

Melendres court documents indicate that the judge who appointed Warshaw & Associates, G. Murray Snow, claims “a high degree of familiarity” with the company’s credentials. Warshaw & Associates is also monitoring the Oakland, CA Police Department; the Detroit Police Department; and in 2013 was assigned to monitor the Niagara Falls Police Department as a result of federal court orders following citizen complaints of excessive force or other alleged misconduct on the part of officers.

In late 2013, Snow found that the MCSO, led by Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio, had racially-profiled Latinos during “saturation patrols” and traffic stops. Warshaw’s role is to assist the MCSO to make the necessary changes to be considered in compliance with Snow’s numerous orders. The MCSO appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which “affirmed in part and vacated in part” Snow’s decision.

In May, The Post & Email contacted Warshaw’s New Hampshire-based company, Police Performance Solutions LLC, and spoke with business partner Chief Charles Reynolds, who informed us that Warshaw does not give interviews. An editorial at The Niagara Falls Reporter appears to support Reynolds’ statement. Reynolds offered to convey The Post & Email’s contact information to Warshaw in the event that Warshaw might reconsider his position, which we provided; but we did not hear from Warshaw.

MCSO monitoring services began in late January 2014, with the county and Warshaw & Associates reaching an invoicing agreement on February 12, 2014. As part of the contract, Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson was to review each invoice and supporting documentation in Snow’s chambers before approving it for payment by the county.

An order from Snow dated September 11, 2014 issued by Snow stemming from billing disputes between Maricopa County and Warshaw & Associates declared:

As an initial matter, unlike many services provided to the County which are performed without the benefit of personal supervision, the Monitor is in constant communication with the Court regarding the performance of his services. The Court has regular, almost daily meetings with the Monitor when he is in Maricopa County, and frequent contact regarding developments and inquiries when he is not. Further, unlike time records submitted by attorneys, in which highly specific and detailed time records must be submitted, the Court has ordered the services of the Monitor and has dictated their scope. The Monitor’s time, therefore, while not immune from examination by the County or exempt from being billed with some specificity, is not as subject to the specific detailed inquiry to determine whether the Monitor’s time is compensable. It presumptively is. Further, unlike many of the services that are monitored by Ms. Wilson for the County, the Court has a high degree of personal familiarity that the Monitor Team is working very hard and performing the functions that are required of it, by the Court’s orders.

The Court is also aware, however, of Ms. Wilson’s good faith desire and responsibility to ensure appropriate cost verification measures for taxpayer funds.

Missing among the documentation received by The Post & Email are invoices for September 2014 and April 2015. In his reply to our request, Moseley wrote, “I will be sending you a series of emails in response to your public records request to Maricopa County. These PDF files are large and include the contract plus amendments and the invoices plus receipts. However, many of the larger invoices for services remain under court seal, so they are not public yet.”

On May 5, 2015, Snow ordered Wilson to approve the April invoice without having seen the customary supporting documentation, according to an objection filed by Wilson’s attorney, Katherine Baker, on June 8. In her filing, Baker referred to the April invoice as “huge” and “exceedingly large.”

Reynolds had informed us that for months during which quarterly progress reports are prepared, monitoring services are normally more costly. Warshaw & Associates was also appointed to conduct “community outreach” and hold meetings with members of the community which the MCSO serves.

On May 6, Snow “temporarily suspended” the protocol Wilson had been following of reviewing the invoices in his chambers. As suggested in May 2014 by then-counsel for Maricopa County Douglas Irish, Snow has assumed review and approval of the invoices after determining that they are “reasonable.”

Invoices from Warshaw & Associates prior to April 2015 contain line items with accompanying documentation for airline flights, advertising, FedEx costs, cab fare, meals and tips, hotel rooms, “printing & binders,” car rental, access to the federal PACER system, and parking.

“Professional services” not itemized include “Document & Policy Reviews,” “Consultations with Court & Senior Executives,” “Investigative Oversight,” “Consultations w/ Parties,” and “Invoice Preparations,” among other activities. In his technical proposal prior to being appointed, Warshaw enumerated six team members, including himself.

The invoices range from the high five figures in April 2014 to $319,584.23. The invoice for October 2014 is $207,557.29, while March 2015′s invoice totals $232,506.52. The last available invoice, for June 2015, totals $118,232.86 and does not appear to contain the detail present in past invoices. The September 2014 and April 2015 invoices remain undisclosed to the public to The Post & Email’s knowledge.