In Maricopa County, Constable, Jimmie Munoz has not shown up to work since December, yet he’s still getting paid at the taxpayer’s expense. The constable, who serves Phoenix’s South Mountain district, has not shown up for work in over 5 months due to allegedly being sick.
Munoz told the ethics board that he had been seriously ill, but pictures that were posted on Facebook say otherwise. The pictures showed Munoz vacationing at a Colorado brewery during the time of his absence due to “illness”.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is reviewing their legal options to determine how to proceed. State law indicates that Munoz’s inactivity is grounds for replacement.
Under A.R.S. 38-291(7) an “office shall be deemed vacant… before the expiration of a term of office” when “the person holding the office ceases to discharge the duties of office for the period of three consecutive months.”
Munoz released the following statement:
“I have been very ill since December of 2016; I have a serious heart condition. Since then, I have been in correspondence with my fellow constables regarding my health issues during my time off. In addition to that, a doctor’s note has been in their possession stating that I am unable to work until further notice from the doctor. I have had several treatments and continue to have cardio therapy. I have served my community for 15 years and I did not abandon my job and duties as Constable.”
However, after review by the Constable Ethics and Standard Board, they believe the statue is clear and unfortunately illness is no exception to the law. Munoz has received other complaints as well. It is alleged that he has falsified log books, failed to serve documents, and never showed up to training.
The responsibilities of a constable are quite clear, they have the same legal authority as a county sheriff. Their primary duties include;
-Executing and returning writs of possession or restitution (evictions)
-Serving orders of protection or orders prohibiting harassment
-Serving civil and criminal summons and subpoenas
-Providing judicial security to the justice courts
-Levying and returning writs of execution (seizing property to satisfy judgments)
-Storing personal property that has been levied
-Conducting constable sales of levied property (like sheriff’s sales)
In addition to this, every constable is required to undergo a basic training course within 6 months of assuming office, as well as maintain a certain number of training hours every year thereafter. If they actually show up.
Since justice court precinct lines are determined by the number of people living in a certain area, some counties only have one or two constables, while larger counties may have up to twenty-five. Even with 25 constables, it is baffling to understand how a constable just does not show up, goes undetected, and remains on the payroll. Who is in charge of this?
Although any registered voter may run for the office, many constables are former federal, state, county, and/or local law enforcement officers.
As an elected official, a constable is hired directly by the voters. The process of removing any elected official from office is not only lengthly, but it is legally challenging. All the officials know that and know precisely how to play the game.
Tracey Gulley from Dallas, TX also knows about playing the game. Auditors believe Gulley may have inaccurately logged as many as 533 work hours for which she was paid $19,600, for a time when she was not working.
Gulley defended herself in a written response to auditors, saying that she worked from home with permission from her boss, Constable Johnny Garrett. She also stated that she had traveled during work hours to schools and businesses as part of her job’s community engagement duties.
Auditors argue that Gulley did not provide any documentation of her speaking engagements. They also believe that the only school she traveled to was her own children’s to drop them off and pick them up. Which is actually a parental responsibility, not a work-related function.
Gulley also falsified her time log. She conveniently logged eight hours of work on four days that she didn’t even show up at the office. And when she did manage to go into the office, she was only there for 15 minutes to two hours a day but she still logged eight hours of work.
But the county can’t discipline Gulley because she works for the constable, which is an elected office.
It is not surprising that cities, counties, states and our country are in a deficit crises when our tax dollars go to paying these elected officials, who do not even show up for work.