The Pinal County Board of Supervisors put County Manager Stan Griffis on paid administrative leave Friday, pending the outcome of an investigation into purchases of firearms and accessories that Griffis made with county funds.
A county sheriff office’s fact-finding investigation revealed that Griffis purchased more than $21,000 in firearms and accessories earlier this year with county money. The firearms were purchased with money from the account of the sheriff’s volunteer posse, of which Griffis was a member and certified firearms trainer until he resigned this fall. The posse account was later reimbursed with money from other county accounts, the report said.
After a two-hour closed session Friday, the board of supervisors voted unanimously to place Griffis on paid leave immediately. The leave could extend until the manager’s scheduled retirement on Jan. 11. Griffis will be on unpaid leave Dec. 12-23 while he is in Africa on a hunting safari.
All but one of the weapons have been turned in to the sheriff’s office, according to the investigation. A Springfield Armory M21 (SOCOM) .308 tactical rifle worth more than $2,900 is missing, along with many firearms accessories charged to county accounts, such as ammunition, scopes and clay targets.
Griffis said after the meeting that he appreciated what the board did.
"I just want everybody to understand that my retirement was decided three years ago," he said. "If the board hadn’t made the motion they did, I would have asked them to because I’m sick. I have some heart trouble, and I need to hang it up."
He has said the sheriff’s investigation stemmed from a misunderstanding over billing — that the weapons should have been charged to the county manager’s account and the county’s contingency fund, but were mistakenly charged to the posse account. Posse members are not authorized to use most of the weapons and accessories Griffis bought.
Supervisors Chairwoman Sandie Smith, D-District 2, said the board would be sending results of the internal investigation to the county attorney and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
Smith earlier this year requested that the state auditor general look into the issue. Officials with the auditor general’s office said the office is working with the sheriff’s office to determine whether the auditor general will become involved in the review.
Griffis, 63, has been the county’s top appointed official since 1989. Deputy county manager Terry Doolittle will assume Griffis’ duties.