Pinal County sheriff’s officials say they are now keeping quality assurance tests on a breathalyzer machine that helps prosecute drunken driving cases in northeastern Pinal County.
Sheriff officials announced an internal audit into a problem with missing breathalyzer records on July 29.
A Tribune story published that day reported that county prosecutors were forced to drop at least four recent drunken driving cases in the Apache Junction Justice Court because the records for the Intoxilyzer 8000, the breathalyzer used at the sheriff’s Santan station, were not available.
Sheriff’s spokesman Mike Minter said the quality tests now are the responsibility of Cpl. Paul Compton.
Deputy Cardest James was pulled from the duty after it was discovered that the Intoxilyzer records were missing from April 2007 to June 2008, a period of 14 months.
“The internal investigation is still on-going. Should finish it in the next few weeks,” wrote Lt. Scott Elliott in an e-mail Friday. Elliott serves in the patrol support division.
It’s unclear if many of the dismissed cases would have proceeded as far as they did in the court system if the prosecutor knew there were no records for the breathalyzer. But public records provided to the Tribune offer insight into the investigation, which began June 4.
Pinal County prosecutor Michael Larsen wrote June 5 to Richard Platt, chief criminal deputy for the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, that he was frustrated in tracking down the records. Larsen disputed James’ assertion that he didn’t know Larsen needed records for 2008.
“I have e-mailed him once every two weeks for the past three months requesting the 2008 materials and he still hasn’t given me anything,” Larsen wrote. “His comment that he did not know that I still needed the 2008 documentation is inaccurate. There is no way he did not know I still needed all the 2008 documentation.”
A day earlier, Larsen wrote to Platt in an e-mail that James had changed his story since Larsen originally asked for the documents in January, according to county e-mails.