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Radtke indictment unsealed: Pima's chief deputy accused of $500k in laundering, theft

In an indictment that was unsealed Wednesday, the former chief deputy of the Pima County Sheriff's Department is accused of one count of conspiring to launder money and six counts of theft of public funds, totaling more than a half-million dollars. Chris Radtke resigned Monday following the federal charges, which cover five years of activities.

According to court documents, Radtke is charged with covering up expenses, including purchases made on behalf of his niece and other associates. The indictment alleges "approximate $500,000 of financial transactions ... designed in whole or in part to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of the proceeds...."

RICO funds — the proceeds of money and property taken over by the government from alleged criminal groups — were routed through the Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteers group to allow Radtke and PCSD to "use the money free from regulations relating to forfeiture funds and procurement," the indictment claims.

Radtke, made the chief deputy of the department last year, was indicted by a grand jury on Sept. 28. The case was sealed until he was served. He stepped down from his post Monday, and the court papers were released on order of federal Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Rateau, sitting in Tucson, on Wednesday.

The case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Utah, after the Justice Department's Arizona prosecutors recused themselves.

Radtke is charged with one count of conspiracy to launder money, and six counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Radtke is the only person named in the indictment, but it alleges he worked in concert with "others known and unknown to the grand jury" to "circumvent the restrictions on use of forfeiture funds by misrepresenting to the Pima County Attorney's Office ... that the Pima County Sheriff's Office (sic) was donating the forfeiture funds to the Pima County Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteers...."

Instead, court documents allege, the funds were used to purchase items for the department and "individuals affiliated with the defendant."

Among incidents cited in the indictment:

  • A Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteers check for $926.09 issued to a member of the Sheriff's Department in May 2011, in part to pay for a $250 restaurant bill and a $109.09 microwave for a department breakroom.
  • Another 2011 SAV check to a department employee, for $627.60, in part for an $80.79 restaurant bill.
  • $288.72 paid from SAV to a PCSD employee for materials to build a sleigh for an award banquet.
  • $501.29 to purchase and ship a chalkboard for use in a PCSD employee cafe that was operated by Radtke's niece, along with checks for $300 and $500 paid to an artist for chalkboard art for the cafe.
  • $599.90, plus $90 for shipping, and a later $50 rush shipping charge, to purchase two model airplanes for the department.

Sheriff Chris Nanos announced Radtke's departure from his department late Monday night, saying that he had been informed of the case by the chief deputy earlier in the day.

Radtke "has since submitted his resignation and I will not comment on another law enforcement agency's investigation," Nanos said then.

Nanos spoke to the press Wednesday about accusations made by former department surgeon and ex-U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, but brusquely refused to answer questions about Radtke, and only briefly addressed the case.

The department has been under investigation by the FBI for nearly a year regarding the potential misuse of RICO monies.

Among the focuses of the federal probe were transfers of tens of thousands of dollars from the county's RICO account to the Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteers, which were apparently used to fund tuxedos, flowers and entertainment for awards banquets. Those would be improper expenses for RICO funds.

Also examined by the FBI has been the department's purchase of about $20,000 in commercial kitchen equipment for an employee cafe within PCSD operated by Radtke's niece, who did not have a contract despite procurement rules.

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

FBI spokesmen, following their standard practice, would not confirm or deny that the bureau had been probing PCSD.

Nanos said that Radtke's indictment had "shaken the department to its core," but that he had taken "decisive action" and met with every member of the department who handles or oversees funding sources. Nanos said that he had direct these officials to complete an "an immediate and comprehensive review" to ensure that funds were handled correctly. 

And, he will continue to monitor those processes personally, Nanos said.

Nanos, the former chief deputy, was appointed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors on the recommendation of former Sheriff Clarence Dupnik when he retired last July, but the Democrat now faces an election challenge from Republican Mark Napier.

After Nanos' appointment, the sheriff pulled Radtke back onto the force to be his chief deputy after his retirement about a year before.

Also under FBI investigation for misuse of Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations funds is Sheriff Paul Babeu's Pinal County Sheriff's Department. The Republican is leaving his county post after the November election, having thrown his hat into the CD1 congressional race.

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2 comments on this story

Oct 12, 2016, 10:02 pm
-1 +5

I worked for the Sheriff’s Dept. for 21 years. Chris Radtke is why I was forced to retire 8 years ago. He was an equal opportunity intimidater. Whether support staff or deputy or detective, if you had the misfortune of making his hit list, he’d watch you for years and look for opportunities to make your life miserable. It was amazing how he had so much time on his hands to manipulate personnel and perpetuate the business style of threats and intimidation. We always referred to this action as “reach out and touch. ” Fellow employees knew you got moved to a bad assignment or worse when “they” reached out and touched.

Sheriff Chris Nanos is a good man, but it is obvious that his other top two people weren’t.  I’m confused as to why Radtke and Gagnepain weren’t shown the door when Chris Nanos was appointed Sheriff. I’d love to hear from retired Sheriff Dupnik as to his roll in protecting and preserving these two men’s jobs all these years.  Because of Radtke and Gagnepain I couldn’t support the re-election of Dupnik every election.  After all, I lost a job I loved due to these men.  I don’t believe Sheriff Nanos was naive, but I do wish he had taken other actions than he did when making appointments.

Chris Radtke finally got what he deserves but Chris Nanos I would still like to give the benefit of the doubt. Having reported directly to him as my immediate supervisor for two years of my life I found him to be fair, honest and full of integrity.  I support him for Sheriff.  He has worked his way up the ladder of the department. I truly believe that he can regain the respect of employees with a clean slate. His community outreach since becoming Sheriff has been impeccable.  He has been visible and available when his predecessor only made appearances in election years.

Oct 12, 2016, 8:06 pm
-1 +8

Alright…I read this piece, and I’m still not understanding how Nanos and Dupnik get a pass here. Something like this couldn’t have went on without their knowledge, it just couldn’t have. They’re just as liable. Where are their indictments?

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