Emails, records indicate MCSO paid for 'birther' investigation - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Emails, records indicate MCSO paid for 'birther' investigation

Country Sheriff Joe Arpaio sitting with Dennis Montgomery. (Source: CBS 5 News) Country Sheriff Joe Arpaio sitting with Dennis Montgomery. (Source: CBS 5 News)

Despite Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's assertion that no taxpayer money was used to fund the investigation into President Barack Obama's birth certificate, emails and other records released during the sheriff's contempt of court hearings indicate the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office may have paid tens of thousands of dollars for the much-criticized investigation.

"It didn't cost taxpayers any money," Arpaio said during a deposition in an unrelated court case in July.

He stated that one of his volunteer posses was conducting the investigation. That posse is funded entirely by donations.

But emails and internal MCSO documents that were made public in the sheriff's contempt of court proceedings show the sheriff's office paid a confidential informant at least $120,000 while he was working on the birth certificate investigation and another project.

That confidential informant is identified as Dennis Montgomery. He is a software developer from Seattle who has been accused of fraud and forgery in the past. According to MCSO emails and court testimony, in late 2013 Montgomery claimed he could prove a conspiracy that targeted Arpaio. The alleged conspiracy included the U.S. Department of Justice and the federal judge who was overseeing a racial profiling case against the sheriff.

Documents released in the court case show MCSO paid Montgomery at least $120,000 for his work. Neither Arpaio nor the MCSO would confirm how much Montgomery was paid.

Emails between the posse member in charge of the birth certificate investigation, Mike Zullo, and Montgomery indicate the software developer was also working to show that the President's birth certificate was fake. Neither Zullo nor MCSO have responded to questions about how much of the money paid to Montgomery was payment for the birth certificate work.

But an MCSO memo, signed by Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan and dated August 15, 2014, approved payment for expenses for Zullo to travel to Seattle with an MCSO detective to work on the investigation.

By early 2015, emails and court testimony indicate Montgomery had not provided anything of value regarding the alleged Justice Department conspiracy or the birth certificate investigation.

[RELATED: Emails show Arpaio paid informant at least $120,000 for 'bogus data']

In July of this year, Arpaio stated that the investigation into the president's birth certificate was still in progress.

Copyright 2016 KPHO (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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