Sergeant: Systemic problem can't be "cleaned up with one person" - Tucson News Now

Sergeant: Systemic problem can't be "cleaned up with one person"

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

With Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier calling for a state investigation into the misuse of RICO funds at his department, those close to the case are agreeing that more needs to be done.

Napier's request comes nearly two months after former Chief Deputy Chris Radtke received probation for stealing public money for personal use. Radtke pleaded guilty in Federal Court on Feb. 10 to three misdemeanor counts of theft of public money, in the money laundering and theft case.

"There was corruption at the Pima County Sheriff's Department that is no longer there," U.S. Attorney of Utah, David Backman, said at the May 5 sentencing.

It's an almost laughable statement from Backman, if you ask Pima County Deputy Sheriffs Association board member Kevin Kubitskey. He's a sergeant in the Pima County Sheriff's Department, and was the union president during the time of Radtke's case, under former Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos.

"You can't have a systematic problem like that and just think it's cleaned up with one person," Kubitskey said Friday during a phone call exclusively with Tucson News Now.

That one person was Radtke, who pleaded guilty in February to federal misdemeanor violations and was sentenced to probation, for what he revealed was a criminal conspiracy lasting nearly two decades.

Radtke admitted that certain sheriff's department administrative staff circumvented asset forfeiture funds for 18 years. He also admitted that he participated in the scheme for more than five years.

It's why, in a Thursday, June 22 news release, Sheriff Napier stated that he is asking state of Arizona officials to dig deeper, by requesting a state investigation.

[READ MORE: Sheriff Napier asks state to investigate misuse of RICO funds]

"The present question is whether this investigation completely addressed all criminal conduct and bad actors from a state perspective. Further, what, if any, additional avenues could be appropriately explored to ensure public confidence in the resolution of the matter," Napier said in the statement. "I have requested the Pima County Attorney's Office to initiate a review of the evidence to determine whether any state laws have been violated."

When asked by e-mail to clarify and expound upon the news release, Sheriff Napier said, "Questions about how the requested review might be handled are best addressed to the Pima County Attorney's Office."

A message to Pima County Attorney Barbara Lawall received the following response: "I have received Sheriff Napier's request and am in the process of evaluating it. I cannot comment further at this time, given that this involves a matter at the investigation stage."

So instead, it was Kubitskey who was left answering questions on the past, present, and future state of the investigation - like why, months later, are the information and facts of the case being re-examined?

"It's been ongoing. It's been non-stop," Kubitskey said, talking about the time elapsed between Radtke's plea in May and the news release being issued Thursday. "I know that when the U.S. Attorney stopped with Chris Radtke he said he didn't have enough evidence on others. Well, I know for a fact that's not true because I saw it. It's a matter of whether they want to go forward on it. And for some political reason, they chose not to."

Further examination of Sheriff Napier's news release shows that his request was a long time coming.

"Some in the community and within my department feel that others may have culpability, and the sanction provided was inadequate given the scope and apparent vast nature of the offense," Napier said in the news release. "The federal investigation reviewed the evidence from a federal law enforcement perspective. The present question is whether this investigation completely addressed all criminal conduct and bad actors from a state perspective."

Napier stated that he is reviewing all available avenues for prosecution, like the Doctrine of Dual Sovereignty. It would allow investigators to skirt laws against Double Jeopardy.

In the news release, Napier said it would, "allow for the review of this matter from a state perspective to determine whether state laws had been violated with respect to this conduct." Radtke was only convicted on federal charges in federal court.

According to the Yale Law Journal, the Double Jeopardy Clause "prohibits the government from prosecuting or punishing a defendant multiple times for the same offense. Double jeopardy protections, however, come with a major exception. Under the dual sovereignty doctrine, different sovereign states can prosecute a defendant multiple times for the same offense."

"I believe that there is more that needs to be brought to light. I think there are more people accountable. Whether they're still part of the department or whether they've moved on," Kubitskey explained, also talking about the possible new evidence. "I just think it's more documentation on the knowledge of the former Sheriff Nanos, and the Sheriff before him, Clarence Dupnik. I believe that those two were more involved more than they wanted to come out. I think at this point it's inevitable it's going to come out."

Sheriff Napier's request for a review and investigation goes to County Attorney Barbara Lawall, but it's likely that her office will "recuse themselves," Napier said.

Kubitskey agrees that there could be a conflict of interest.

"Barbara Lawall was close friends with all of those people. She was at all the banquets that those RICO dollars were being used for. So I think it's imperative that they recuse themselves from any type of investigation," he told Tucson News Now.

The next step would be the Arizona Attorney General, Napier said, having requested that this matter also be brought to them for review.

For Kubitskey, the review is a new hope that justice will be served.

"There are a lot of people in this that were technically not straight victims because of the money laundering, but they were victims because they were whistle-blowers," he said. "They went through a lot over the last year and a half. So to see nothing happening to these individuals and to see no furtherance of an investigation, it's re-victimizing them."

As part of his plea agreement, Radtke admitted to using a Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteers check in the amount of $926.09 to reimburse the Sheriff's Department special awards fund. Part of that money was for a $250 restaurant bill and $109.09 for a microwave oven for the department in May 2011.

Radtke also admitted that he used the SAV credit card to purchase model airplanes for $599.90 and $90 for shipping in July 2014.

Finally, Radtke admitted that he used an SAV check to pay an artist $500 to create a menu for the department cafe in April 2015. The cafe was owned and operated by Radtke's niece.

[READ MORE: Indictment against former Pima County Chief Deputy released]

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