Despite admitting to sexual intercourse with three victims of crimes he investigated for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s favorite detective, Brian Mackiewicz avoided dismissal during recent disciplinary proceedings, and was hit with an 80 hour suspension instead.
The punishment for lying to a superior officer at a law enforcement agency usually is termination. And Mackiewicz was told last year that the MCSO was considering his dismissal because of the alleged misconduct.
Nevertheless, Mackiewicz is back at work after serving out his suspension, and is expected to retire in good standing sometime this year after serving nearly 20 years at the MCSO.
MCSO’s report on Mackiewicz’s inappropriate relationships with victims not only substantiates a previous article by New Times based on confidential sources, it goes further, detailing a pattern of untoward behavior by the detective.
In an investigative summary authored by Pat Lopez, deputy chief of the MCSO’s investigations bureau, Lopez cites three women, whose names are redacted, as being victims, respectively, of domestic violence/stalking, of a fraudulent scheme, and of burglary.
Mackiewicz was found to have had sexual relations with all three.
“All three women were victims of crimes where Brian was the investigating detective/deputy,” writes Lopez. “All three of these investigations could jeopardize any investigation conducted by Brian.”
In interviews with investigators, Mackiewicz’s excuse was that there was no MCSO policy prohibiting such relationships and that the sex was consensual.
However, Lopez dismisses this line of defense.
“Having sex with the victim of a crime [Mackiewicz] investigates does interfere with his ability to be objective and impartial,” writes Lopez. “If this were to become known in court, it would negatively affect the prosecution.”
The domestic violence/stalking case from 2013 seems the most egregious example of Mackiewicz’s problems with maintaining professional boundaries.
It was during the investigation of Mackiewicz’s actions here that investigators learned of the other two cases of the detective’s having sex with victims.
In the stalking case, a woman was being harassed by her estranged husband, who had threatened violence against her and her children.
In the initial interview with the woman, Mackiewicz was accompanied by Sergeant N. Martin, who found Mackiewicz’s behavior to be inappropriate.
Martin said Mackiewicz sat next to the woman on a love seat in the living room of her residence, and Mackiewicz would “touch her on her leg and shoulder and…became very friendly.”
At one point in the interview, Martin sent a text to another detective about Mackiewicz’s suggestive body language, commenting that he might be forced to “put [Mackiewicz’s] tongue back in his mouth.”
When they exited the residence, Martin remembered Mackiewicz saying of the woman, “Man, she’s attractive.”
During a later interview with the woman, Mackiewicz “put his arm around [her],” according to Martin.
Another detective involved in the case, J. Graham, said Mackiewicz described the domestic violence victim as a “good looking lady,” with “big tits.”
Additionally, Graham said that it was a “running joke” in his squad that he and other deputies did not want Mackiewicz “interacting with the females” at a crime scene, because Mackiewicz “gets too close to the females, touching them to the point it is almost `inappropriate’ touching.”
Mackiewicz’s superior officer, Captain Steve Bailey, wrote a memo about Mackiewicz for investigators from the Professional Standards Bureau, as the MCSO’s internal affairs division is known.
Bailey recounted a briefing on the case given by Mackiewicz, where Mackiewicz made comments about the female victim being attractive.
“I didn’t like the tone of that comment,” wrote Bailey, who was a lieutenant in 2013. “I instructed Brian that he was not to have a sexual relationship with the victim.”
Bailey continued, “Detective Mackiewicz said, `Ah, come on, Lieutenant,” and [I] replied to Brian, stating again that he was not to have sex with that woman.”
These admonishments aside, Mackiewicz had sex with the victim in a Phoenix hotel room on September 4, 2013, a fact corroborated by the woman herself, in an interview with MCSO investigators.
Others were present when Bailey gave Mackiewicz this order, including Lieutenant Jeff Gentry, then a sergeant.
A few days later, Gentry was given a printout of text messages between Mackiewicz and the victim that had been downloaded from the victim’s phone as part of the investigation.
Gentry found the messages to be inappropriate and confronted Mackiewicz about them, asking Mackiewicz directly if he had already had sex with the woman.
Mackiewicz told him, “No.” Gentry then took Mackiewicz to Bailey, their superior, who again warned Mackiewicz not to have sex with the woman.
But Mackiewicz had already done the deed. In fact the woman told PSB investigators during an interview that the she and Mackiewicz had sex “right at the beginning” of the investigation, with Mackiewicz ending the sexual relationship almost immediately after it was consummated.
“Yeah, he told me that he didn’t want to jeopardize anything with the case,” she recalled. “Uh, you know, [he said] it wasn’t an appropriate way to be in a relationship.”
In addition to Mackiewicz’s defense that MCSO has no policy against such relationships, the detective claimed that he had “self-reported” this sexual escapade to Arpaio’s Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, who is rumored to be Mackiewicz’s protector in the office.
But in an interview with internal affairs investigators, a frequently-sighing Sheridan said he had no recollection of any such conversations with his protege.
Sheridan said the case involving this stalking/domestic violence victim had been referred to him by a lawyer friend, identified in the file as one of Arpaio’s attorneys in his contempt hearings, Joe Popolizio.
The chief deputy said that it was he who assigned the case to Mackiewicz, and that he would have been “furious” if he had known of the affair. He claimed that he would have ordered an internal investigation if Mackiewicz had self-reported the incident to him.
However, Sheridan said he did recall Mackiewicz’s mentioning that the victim was “beautiful,” and that he remembered “thinking that [comment] was not a good thing.”
So Sheridan said he mentioned Mackiewicz’s comment to the latter’s commanding officer, Bailey.
“I remember talking to Bailey about my concern that Brian told me that [redacted] was beautiful,”said Sheridan. “And that we need to make sure Brian behaves himself.”
Though Mackiewicz was not found guilty of lying to a superior, the charge of insubordination against him was sustained, as were charges of “unbecoming conduct,” “failure to meet standards,” and “incompetence.”
Mackiewicz was also found to have had sexual intercourse with a burglary victim from a 2012 investigation. And Mackiewicz admitted to investigators that he met his current girlfriend while he was investigating a fraud scam that had targeted her.
There was a conviction in the domestic violence/stalking case. It’s not known if the other cases mentioned led to convictions.
During a criminal case, the prosecution is required to reveal if an investigator has committed wrongdoing that might affect the case against a defendant. Officers with a history of discipline are often placed on what’s called the “Brady list.”
But Maricopa County Attorney’s Office spokesman Jerry Cobb told New Times that he could not find Mackiewicz’s name on the list of questionable cops.
In conversations with investigators, Mackiewicz maintained that since his relationships with the victims were consensual, there was no harm.
“I’m an adult, they’re an adult,” Mackiewicz said at one point. “The way that we met each other, I think has little to no bearing on what happens afterward.”
Concerning the domestic violence victim, Mackiewicz rejected the notion that it was improper on his part to have sexual intercourse with her.
“Was it the smartest decision for me to have a relationship with [redacted]?” asked Mackiewicz rhetorically. “No it wasn’t….But for me to sit here and have anyone say that she was vulnerable or I [was] predatorial and everything else, that’s absolutely 100 percent bullshit.”
And yet, the investigative file indicates that Mackiewicz’s advances were not always welcome.
For instance, the mother of a suspect in a bomb threat investigation handled by Mackiewicz told investigators that she thought Mackiewicz got a little too close to her for comfort.
“Detective Mackiewicz asked [redacted] for her son’s phone,” reads the report. “When she went upstairs to retrieve it, he followed and stood in her personal space, making her uncomfortable.”
In this case, Mackiewicz had no personal or sexual relationship with the woman.
The internal investigation also mentions issues with Mackiewicz’s unwanted advances toward women in the office.
As previously reported by New Times, Mackiewicz received a written reprimand in 2014, for his behavior toward two female MCSO employees.
One woman alleged that Mackiewicz “approached her from behind while she sat at her work station and felt her bare back through an opening in her blouse.”
Mackiewicz also was accused of making “kissing sounds” and sexual comments to the woman.
Another woman at the MCSO described Mackiewicz as “touchy feel-y,” and claimed he would blow kisses at her and compliment her on “how nice she looked in that skirt.”
He would also kiss her hand and hold her hand longer than normal, which she called “creepy.”
Mackiewicz was found in violation of several office policies regarding professionalism and admonished that “further misconduct of this nature” could involve more severe discipline, “up to and including termination.”
But despite a personnel file fat with such incidents, Mackiewicz remains Teflon at the MCSO.
During Arpaio’s testimony in his contempt trial last year, the sheriff stated that Mackiewicz was “very important to me personally,” because of the work the detective did, protecting him and his wife Ava.
For his part, Sheridan admitted to a lucrative business relationship that his wife Stacie, a realtor, had both with Mackiewicz and with Mackiewicz’s current girlfriend, who also works in real estate.
On the stand in the contempt trial, Sheridan admitted that his wife “stood to make a $100,000 commission on two real estate transactions on behalf of Brian Mackiewicz’s girlfriend.”
Mackiewicz has acknowledged to New Times that Stacie Sheridan, the chief deputy’s wife, acted as his agent on several purchases of property in the Valley.
But he has denied being the recipient of preferential treatment in the sheriff’s office.
Mackiewicz was the lead detective on Arpaio’s so-called Seattle investigation, which used a computer consultant named Dennis Montgomery as a paid confidential informant, tasked with fleshing out a kooky conspiracy theory involving the CIA, the U.S. Department of Justice, and U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow, the jurist who found Arpaio and the MCSO guilty of racial profiling in the groundbreaking civil rights case Melendres v. Arpaio.
Allegations that Mackiewicz committed fraud by spiking his overtime while working in Seattle on the case remain under criminal investigation by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
But the results of this latest internal affairs investigation, combined with Mackiewicz’s prior history of inappropriate behavior on the job, lends credence to a perception that Mackiewicz is shielded by his special relationships with Arpaio and Arpaio’s chief deputy.
Article posted with permission. Phoenix New Times.