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MCSO candidate Jerry Sheridan praises detective with ethics problems

Republican candidate for sheriff, Jerry Sheridan, wrote a glowing letter of recommendation in 2018 for a former detective with a controversial past.

PHOENIX — Republican candidate for sheriff, Jerry Sheridan, wrote a glowing letter of recommendation in 2018 for a former detective who was seeking new employment after retirement. 

While it’s common for former law enforcement chiefs to write letters of recommendation on behalf of past employees, the letter stands in contrast to the detective’s employment history with Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

While working for the MCSO, Detective Brian Mackiewicz had sex with three victims of separate crimes he was assigned to investigate between 2012 and 2016, according to MCSO internal affairs records.

One of the cases involved a domestic stalking victim and was personally assigned by Sheridan to Mackiewicz to investigate.

An internal affairs summary written by then-chief Pat Lopez of the MCSO stated, “All three women (who had sex with Mackiewicz) were victims of crimes where Brian was the investigating detective/deputy” and his behavior “could jeopardize any investigation conducted by Brian” and “reflects poorly on the office and law enforcement as a whole.”

The department ultimately allowed Mackiewicz to retain his job after being suspended 80 hours. 

The investigation also led to Mackiewicz being placed on “the Brady List” for unbecoming conduct, failure to meet standards and insubordination. 

The Brady List contains names of peace officers who have had sustained incidents of untruthfulness, candor issues or other incidents placing their credibility into question.

The fact that a peace officer was allowed to retain his job after sexual misconduct findings involving three crime victims is difficult to comprehend said Dave Kothe, a retired Phoenix police officer and former vice president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.

“I don’t think anybody doing what this gentleman did with MCSO could have survived with Phoenix or any other major metropolitan department. Maybe he could have gotten away with it one time, but not three,” Kothe said.

Earlier this month, another case made headlines involving alleged sexual misconduct by an MCSO deputy with a crime victim. 

In that case, Sheriff Paul Penzone was accused of going too far. Penzone’s investigators arrested the deputy for sexual misconduct

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined to charge the deputy, stating the Arizona law that deals with peace officer sexual misconduct only pertains to suspects of crimes, not victims.

During Mackiewicz’s internal investigation, Sheridan was responsible for employee discipline. Sheridan told 12 News he recused himself.

“Brian Mackiewicz was a good detective who made some personal mistakes. All allegations were investigated and when he violated policies he was disciplined. I had recused myself from those investigations and stayed out of them,” Sheridan wrote in a statement to 12 News.

In 2014, Mackiewicz also received a written reprimand for violating four policies related to unbecoming conduct, offensive comments and unwelcome physical contact of employees. 

The reprimands resulted after two women employed by MCSO reported Mackiewicz for making unwanted sexual comments and overtures toward them.

Sheridan left MCSO in 2016 and Mackiewicz retired in 2017. 

Sheridan’s 2018 letter of recommendation praised Mackiewicz for “his reputation as a tireless and skilled investigator."

Sheridan wrote that Mackiewicz was entrusted with “high-profile," “legally sensitive investigations." Sheridan also wrote that Mackiewicz “demonstrated compassion for crime victims…” and that “he understood the importance of ethical behavior and we had discussed this issue many times over the years."

“He was able to provide a stimulating conversation concerning his understanding of law enforcement ethics, its intricacies, and the importance it places on individual responsibility,” Sheridan wrote.

Regarding one particularly sensitive case that Mackiewicz investigated, “Every core of his ethics and morals were tested as he was given much autonomy and responsibility,” Sheridan wrote.

The letter does not mention discipline imposed against Mackiewicz or his status on the Brady List.

Sheridan told 12 News his 2018 letter of recommendation was based “on the quality of his work” and Mackiewicz “learned from his mistakes.”

“I’m always going to try to help people who learn and improve, and I’m sorry he has to deal with this being dragged up now just because I’m running for office,” Sheridan said.

In a written statement to 12 News, Mackiewicz said he used poor judgement in his personal life that reflected on his professional life.

“Yet it is my personal life and should no concern to anyone specially five years later,” Mackiewicz wrote.

“In the cases that it was determined that I violated office policy, I accepted the appropriate policy disciplinary action,” the letter states. Mackiewicz also wrote he earned a reputation as a thorough, competent and experienced investigator and received numerous awards and commendations.

“These included four Unit Citations, two Chief’s Awards, two lifesaving Medals, a Meritorious Service Medal, and numerous letters of commendation from the office and other law enforcement agencies,” Mackiewicz wrote. 

Read Mackiewicz’s full statement here:

Credit: 12 News

Sheridan’s relationship to Mackiewicz went beyond the sheriff’s office.

MCSO records show Sheridan testified during a deposition that Mackiewicz had been over to Sheridan’s house “a handful of times” and Mackiewicz had purchased “a few properties” from Sheridan’s wife, Stacie, who worked in real estate. 

Sheridan also acknowledged under oath that Stacie stood to make $100,000 commission on two real estate transactions on behalf of Mackiewicz’s girlfriend.

According to an interview summary of a former girlfriend of Mackiewicz of two-and-a-half years, she told MCSO internal affairs investigators that “Mackiewicz has made statements that he is protected by his relationship with Chief Deputy Sheridan.”

12 News asked Sheridan follow-up questions about his relationship to Mackiewitcz and the real estate transactions. Sheridan declined to answer any questions.

Mackiewicz was a favored detective of Joe Arpaio and Sheridan. He was sent on high-profile out-of-town investigations and was given wide discretion. He was also involved in controversy.

One case he investigated was the widely discredited 2012 Obama “birther” investigation in Hawaii, spearheaded by an unsworn posse member. 

Another case Mackiewicz was heavily involved with was the 2015 “Seattle Operation”, based on a paid informant’s unsupported conspiracy theory involving nationally elected leaders, government agencies and even the federal judge overseeing the Melendres civil rights case.

In 2002, Mackiewicz received written reprimands for two violations of unbecoming conduct that were sexual in nature. Mackiewicz took a personal photo of a corpse’s genitals during an autopsy, and in a separate incident Mackiewicz made inappropriate comments to women at Child Protective Services while off-duty, according to internal investigations.

Mackiewicz currently works as the Program Director for the Criminal Justice Program at Brookline College, according to his Linkedin account.