Deputy's Career Crumbles; Prosecution May Follow

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A former Gila County Deputy's career-long glossy claims that he was a college graduate, a former Navy Seal and a county SWAT team member were untrue, a sheriff's investigation conducted by Detective Sgt. Tommie Rasmussen has concluded.

Confronted May 31 by Rassmussen, Larry Marrs, who was a Gila County deputy at the time, admitted that his statements on resumes, job applications, in trials, during sworn depositions and in casual conversations were false and deceptive.

Marrs told Rasmussen that he had "messed up," and that by making the claims, he was trying to make himself look good.

Marrs resigned his position as a K-9 deputy July 14. He could not be reached for comment.

The issue of whether Marrs' false testimony could have an effect on the outcomes of cases he worked as a deputy will probably have to be decided on an individual basis, Gila County Attorney Jerry DeRose said.

If Marrs' testimony was part of the evidence against the defendant, the deputy's alleged dishonesty could become an issue, DeRose said.

However, if his testimony was not evidence, it would be insignificant.

False statements by Marrs probably would not change the decisions in criminal cases that have already been adjudicated, DeRose said.

On his June 1994 county job application, Marrs wrote that he had a four-year pre-law degree from the University of Colorado.

Transcripts from the university reveal Marrs took four courses and received two F's, a D and a C.

In the May meeting between Rasmussen and Marrs, the former deputy was quizzed about the pre-law degree he claimed on the county job application, according to Rasmussen's report.

According to that report, Marrs replied, "that is not true."

Other statements by Marrs found to be false, Rasmussen reported, were that he was once a military policeman and was serving on a Gila County SWAT team prior to his resignation July 14.

In truth, the Gila County Sheriff's Department has never had a SWAT team and military records reveal Marrs had little or no police training during his stint in the Navy.

Seals claim sparked investigation

Rasmussen's investigation into Marrs began May 26 after Globe defense attorney Anna Ortiz complained that under oath the deputy testified that he had been a Seal.

Ortiz told the sheriff's department she had contacted the Navy and learned Marrs had never been a Seal so the deputy had perjured himself.

Rasmussen's investigation uncovered that Marrs was actually a radio man during his four years in the Navy. His discharge papers issued in 1992 list him as serving in "infantry and seaman specialties."

Marrs also allegedly lied under oath in a court case involving a Globe Police Department officer who had shot and killed a man.

Marrs was in the vicinity and witnessed the event.

During the course of the trial, defense attorneys asked Marrs about his law enforcement duties. He replied in part, "I am also a SWAT team member," according to trial transcripts.

Under further examination, Marrs was asked what his SWAT duties were. He replied, according to the transcripts, "I'm a certified entrance man. I'm the first person to go in. I clear whatever is in my path; take down whoever."

Those statements are all false, Rasmussen's report stated, because there is no county SWAT team.

With Marrs' resignation, Rasmussen's investigation was passed on to DeRose for possible criminal prosecution.

DeRose said he will probably forward the case to another county, maybe Greenlee, because his office was involved in the investigation of Marrs.

If it is proven Marrs lied on the stand or in depositions, he could be charged with perjury a class 4 felony.

A class 1 misdemeanor that the former deputy might also have to answer to revolves around the fact that Marrs' false resume was attached to every narcotic report he sent to the county attorney's office that the former deputy investigated.

Rasmussen wrote in his report, "Attaching the resume as a portion of the criminal investigation report may be considered false reporting to a law enforcement agency."

Allegations of Marrs' misconduct along with Rasmussen's report have been turned over to the Arizona Police Officers Standard and Training Board (POST).

According to POST training manager Lyle Mann, Marrs' case might not be heard until September.

If the board finds Marrs violated the peace officer's code of ethics, it has the power to suspend or revoke his law enforcement certificate.

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