Doug Amadore’s first experience with police work found him wired for sound, wearing a camera disguised as a shirt button and coached on how to catch a thief.
He got no pay for the job but his efforts Wednesday saved his Mesa-based construction company thousands of dollars and landed a Maricopa County inspector in jail on suspicion of theft by extortion and bribery by a public official, according to the county sheriff’s office.
Amadore, operations manager for Extreme Construction, agreed to pay Darrelle Dotson $2,000 to drop complaints with the county’s Air Quality Department, but sheriff’s detectives swooped in as the money changed hands at the designated meeting spot near Ellsworth and Baseline roads.
“They said I did it perfect,” Amadore said.
Amadore said Dotson, 40, responded to a dust complaint last week against his company and initially cleared it of wrongdoing.
The company makes products such as granite countertops and tile, said president Robert Amarillas.
A short time later, Dotson returned from a neighboring business with a photograph of what Amarillas said he believed to be a dust devil on company property, raising his suspicions.
“We’re a granite shop, we use everything with water so it’s kind of hard to have dust,” Amarillas said.
As Amarillas, Amadore and Dotson contemplated a solution, Dotson “came up with this idea,” Amadore said.
“He said, ‘You give me an envelope and I’ll give you an envelope,’ ” Amarillas said. “Coming from a family of police officers, I wasn’t playing that game.”
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Dotson set the payoff as 20 percent of the fine the company faced, and County Attorney Andrew Thomas said the inspector told the company they were “getting a great deal.”
“I don’t think there was ever any dust violation,” Arpaio said.
Amarillas contacted his lawyer, who contacted the county attorney’s office.
Sheriff ’s detectives had Amadore call Dotson late Tuesday and set up Wednesday’s meeting, said Krystal Garza, county attorney spokeswoman.
Arpaio said Dotson, who showed up for the sting in his county car, was planning to leave town a few hours later and told others he was planning to resign Monday.
Bob Kard, director of the Air Quality Department, said he knew nothing of Dotson’s supposed pending resignation.
Arpaio said Dotson claimed this was his first try at extorting someone, but the investigation is just beginning.
Dotson has been employed by the county since July 2005. A University of Arizona newsletter says he graduated with a bachelor of science degree from the College of Public Health in August 2005.
Kard said each of the department’s cases receives strict scrutiny by supervisors and managers to ensure accuracy, legal requirements and fairness. Each case then gets another strict review by the enforcement unit, Kard said.