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Following indictment of chief deputy, Carmona again hits at Sheriff Nanos

Following the indictment of Chief Deputy Chris Radtke, a group of deputies reiterated their claims Tuesday that the Pima County Sheriff's Department is suffering from a "broken leadership culture" created by Sheriff Chris Nanos. 

Late Monday night, Nanos announced in an email that Radtke had resigned his post after he was indicted for allegedly misusing RICO funds. Details of the case remained sealed Tuesday, and the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Utah has taken over the case after Justice Department officials in Arizona recused themselves. 

The department has been under investigation by the FBI for nearly a year following allegations that money from the department's RICO account was apparently used for an awards banquet, running afoul of federal rules regarding such funds, which are seized from alleged criminal groups.

Last Thursday, Dr. Richard Carmona, former U.S. surgeon general and a 30-year veteran of the agency, blasted the sheriff during a press conference, saying Nanos was responsible for a "reign of terror" at the agency, and cited Nanos' tenure as the source of decreasing morale and a staff that responded to criticism with intimidation and retribution. 

Tuesday, Carmona called the FBI's indictment of Radtke a "first step in cleaning up the department," and implied that the investigation could go further, saying this could also be "the beginning."

Nanos did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Last week, he said Carmona and his other critics were making political attacks.

"The timing of this is obvious," Nanos said. 

"Carmona has wanted to be sheriff for a long time," Nanos said, adding that there was no evidence supporting the claims against him. "I've not seen it, because it doesn't exist." Monday night, he said that he would not comment on Radtke's indictment.

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Tuesday, Carmona reminded the group of less than a dozen people who attended the second press conference that Nanos was appointed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors. 

Nanos received the appointment under the recommendation of longtime Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who retired last July. 

During Thursday's press conference, Carmona was quick to claim his attack was not political, which he repeated on Tuesday.

Carmona said that his criticism had nothing to do with the election, where Nanos faces a challenge from Republican Mark Napier in less than a month. Early ballots will be mailed on Wednesday.

"When you go the polls you should be armed with all the information," Carmona said. 

Carmona also said that the corruption Radtke is accused of rarely only includes one person, saying that while he didn't have details of the FBI's investigation, he thought it was a possible that more department officials could be involved. 

Carmona again accused Nanos of interfering with investigations by PCSD because of family ties or because an investigation would hurt his campaign against Napier. 

PCSD Sgt. Kevin Kubistky reiterated his claims that Nanos had retaliated against him, and demanded that Nanos issue a "full and public apology" for comments he made, including comments that Carmona was trying to make political hay out of the issue to maneuver himself into the sheriff's position. 

Kubistky said that that he was embarrassed by the indictment of Radtke and blamed Nanos for a culture where deputies and civilian employees were afraid to speak out about problems in the department. 

The culture began to change for the worse when Nanos became chief deputy, and accelerated once he became sheriff, Kubistky said. 

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However, in the last few days, following his announcement on Thursday, he said that seven or eight deputies had texted or called, and other civilian employees were coming out to talk, Kubistky said. 

A second deputy, Bob Muzzy, said that as a training officer he was "hammered" for alerting Nanos and his staff about gender and age discrimination against some new recruits. Muzzy said that training officers were raising standards arbitrarily, often targeting female recruits and recruits over the age of 40 by giving them "impossible" tasks. 

Muzzy said that he compiled his observations into several pages of notes that he sent up the chain of command. Instead, he was sent back to patrol duties "against his will," a change that cost him nearly $10,000 in overtime and on-call pay, Muzzy said. 

"What blows me away is that we don't have the bravery, we don't have the courage to protect ourselves when we have an internal issue," Muzzy said. 

"I knew I was going to get hammered by bringing this to their attention, but I had to," Muzzy said. "We were doing the wrong thing at the front door, and they punished me for it."

The FBI has also examined the department's purchase of nearly $20,000 in commercial kitchen equipment for an employee cafe at PCSD's headquarters, which happens to be run by Radtke's niece, who ran the eating area apparently without a contract, violating the agency's procurement rules. 

The Arizona Daily Star's Caitlin Schmidt reported the possible misuse of funds, and earlier this year, Schmidt reported that the FBI was investigating the department.

Nanos said last Thursday that the accusations by Carmona and Kubistky were untrue and "politically motivated" and that he had not reprimanded or demoted deputies since he became sheriff.

Last week, Dupnik said that Carmona was attacking Nanos because the surgeon wasn't himself set up to become sheriff.

Dupnik, a Democrat, said that he had considered promoting Carmona to chief deputy, with the eventual chance to be become sheriff, but that he was told by the Pima County Board of Supervisors that they would not support Carmona's promotion. 

Dupnik decided to back Nanos for the job instead, and Carmona "became extremely angry and agitated" and "stormed out of my office," Dupnik wrote.

Napier, the Republican challenger to Nanos, came up short in a 2012 challenge to Dupnik.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Dr. Richard Carmona during a press conference on Thursday in which he criticized Sheriff Chris Nanos for his leadership. On Tuesday, the department's Chief Deputy was indicted for misusing RICO funds following an FBI investigation.