2nd Pinal deputy under criminal investigation - East Valley Tribune: News

2nd Pinal deputy under criminal investigation

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Posted: Friday, July 31, 2009 5:12 pm | Updated: 12:33 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A former Pinal County Sheriff's SWAT leader was placed on administrative leave this week for alleged wrongdoing, and a commander who admitted to lying on pre-employment applications resigned Friday.

According to Lt. Tamatha Villar, sheriff's spokeswoman, there were several complaints filed against Sgt. Scott Gillen, including allegations of crimes. She did not expand on the criminal allegations.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is now investigating Gillen, an 18-year Pinal County Sheriff's Office veteran and former SWAT commander, Villar said.

Gillen couldn't be reached for comment, but an attorney representing the union he belongs to said Gillen hasn't been told what he's accused of either.

"We haven't the faintest idea what it could be," said Martin Bihn, attorney for the The Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs.

Bihn said Gillen was told to gather his gear and informed that he was on leave pending a criminal investigation.

Sheriff Paul Babeu placed him on leave on Tuesday.

Bihn said politics could be playing a role since Gillen backed Babeu's opponent - former Sheriff Chris Vasquez - in the 2008 election.

Bihn said Gillen was reassigned from SWAT commander to patrol after Babeu was elected.

"He backed the wrong horse," Bihn said.

Babeu said in a press release that "supervisors will be required to lead from the front and conduct themselves according to policy with professionalism at all times within the organization."

He said Gillen will get full due process.

"I can, however, assure you that this action is not politically motivated," Villar said.

Villar said she filed one of the administrative complaints against Gillen and he is aware of the nature of that one.

She is prohibited from talking about the complaint, even to the sheriff, she said.

Babeu reassigned Gillen because he wanted a higher ranking deputy leading the SWAT team and because of findings from an investigation into the death of Sgt. Tate Lynch, who fell 50 feet while rappelling during SWAT training on Oct. 25, 2007, Villar said. An Arizona Department of Public Safety report and an investigation by the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health show that few safety measures or precautions were taken and little instruction, if any, was provided to Lynch and other rappellers.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Cmdr. Joe McAuliffe gave two weeks notice, but Babeu made his resignation effective immediately.

Babeu placed McAuliffe on administrative leave July 1 after the state's police certification board decided June 17 to seek the suspension of his certification for lying about illegal drug use on job applications and polygraph tests.

McAuliffe and Babeu both worked at the Chandler Police Department and Babeu hired him after he was elected.

McAuliffe was in charge of getting Pinal County Jail accreditation.

Gillen is the second deputy under criminal investigation.

Babeu placed Lt. Kaye Dickson on administrative leave July 1 pending the outcome of an investigation by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Bihn said Dickson has no idea what she is under investigation for either.

"She's just sitting," Bihn said.

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