On July 18th, we learned another one of the investigations has come to a close. The latest investigation began on March 9th, 2012 when Behring alleged Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Director of Communications and Grants, Tim Gaffney had tampered with a public record which is class six felony. He alleged the employee deleted 6,402 records which were tied to pending public records requests.
Although he launched this investigation on March 9th, there was no notification made to our office or the employee until it was written about on March 30th in a local newspaper. It was then we discovered the employee was accused of this serious crime.
County Manager Fritz Behring, as he has done in past investigations against this same employee, provided both false and misleading information when he launched the investigation both to law enforcement and to the public.
- There are several email communications which show, Mr. Behring, the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, the Director of Pinal County Information Technology and our office all knew the employees’ emails were already archived and placed on a tape which is still retained by Pinal County Information Technology.
- Mr. Behring was cc: on an email from the Information Technology Director to the employee days prior, after the employee was already told his emails were archived, directing him not to archive on his computer or network.
- Pinal County Policy instructs employees that once their emails have been preserved they are required to delete them from their electronic email system; this is because of storage capacity issues.
- The Director of Information Technology has apologized to members of our office and told us that he was just taking orders from the County Manager on this issue.
- A Deputy County Attorney has told our office the County Manager was not following their legal advice on this issue.
- Mr. Behring knew the employee had over 40,000 records archived, which likely exceeds any other Pinal County employee and according to the State Library of Archives 97% of the emails should have already been deleted and not ever retained.
- The records were not only kept electronically by the employee, but many of them were also printed, turned over to the County Attorney’s Office for safekeeping and some of the records were even photographed to prove their existence.
While Behring he knew these facts, he failed to provide them to law enforcement, investigators or to the public; as a result another investigation was launched.
As a result of this investigation which was launched once again with inaccurate facts, the County has already incurred likely $200 thousand dollars in debt from private legal counsel retained both for our office and the County by the Board of Supervisors to deal with this issue.
The State Library of Archives and the Ombudsman’s Office which deals with public records and sets the guidelines for record retention for the state, have both told the employee that he had not done anything wrong based on the information they received about the case.
On July 10th the investigation was closed by the Pima County Attorney’s Office as the evidence did not support any type of charges.
Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, “County Manager Fritz Behring has lost the trust of our office since he is more concerned about saving his job and as a result, he has violated his professional oath and County policy by carrying out obvious political attacks for the Board of Supervisors. Tax dollars have been wasted at a time we can least afford it.”