Deputy Under Scrutiny Resigns

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A Gila County Sheriff's deputy, who was well-regarded by his peers, resigned Friday amid allegations that he lied on his job application and as a prosecution witness in several trials.

Former deputy Larry Marrs submitted his resignation to Gila County Sheriff Joe Rodriquez July 14, less than two months after the sheriff's department began investigating his background.

Marrs may now face criminal charges and the revocation of his law-enforcement credentials.

During the investigation, Gila County Sheriff's Sgt. Tom Rasmussen determined that Marrs lied on his employment application completed in June 1994 about being a Navy Seal, a military policeman and a college graduate, Rodriquez said.

The issue of the deputy's credibility first surfaced May 26, when Globe attorney Anna Ortiz took concerns about Marrs to the sheriff's office, Rodriquez said. When contacted by the Roundup, Ortiz refused to comment on the case.

Marrs was placed on paid administrative leave two or three days after the investigation began, Rasmussen estimated.

The sergeant verified, however, that Marrs did receive police training at an academy sponsored in part by Eastern Arizona College and Southern Gila County police agencies, as he reported on his job application.

During the six years Marrs worked for the sheriff's department, Rodriquez said, he had a clean record and no disciplinary action was taken against him.

Gila County Attorney Jerry DeRose said Marrs was a model officer who left strong impressions on those who worked with him. He described the officer as aggressive and outwardly professional.

Now that Marrs has resigned, the perjury and job falsification allegations have been turned over to DeRose and the Police Officers Standard and Training board (POST).

But because the Gila County Attorney's office was involved in the original investigation of Marrs, DeRose said he would be required to turn over possible prosecution of the case to another county. Greenlee would be a logical choice, he said.

POST Inservice Training Manager Lyle Mann confirmed that his Phoenix office recently received a copy of the investigation into Marrs' alleged misconduct. After reviewing it, the board could opt to hold a hearing into the allegations.

"It can be a long, drawn-out process it might not start until August, but I'm betting on September," Mann said.

If POST finds Marrs violated the peace officer's code of ethics, it has the power to suspend or revoke his law-enforcement certification, Mann said.

When Marrs submitted his allegedly falsified employment application six years ago, it successfully made its way through the Sheriff's Department employment system mostly because there weren't enough checks in place, Rodriquez said.

About two years ago, the Gila County Sheriff's office upgraded its background checks of potential officers, Rodriquez said.

Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner confirmed that two years ago at the urging of POST many law enforcement agencies in the state upgraded their background checks of potential officers

If Marrs were to try getting a job with the Gila County Sheriff's Department today, his alleged deceptions would probably have been uncovered, Rodriquez said.

Marrs could not be reached for comment.

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