MCSO officials say they can't account for 50 of their weapons

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Officials with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office say the agency cannot account for 50 weapons.

Those are the results of an audit that is part of a continuing investigation. Sheriff Paul Penzone says the man responsible for failing to keep track of the missing or stolen weapons is the man who used to be sheriff: Joe Arpaio.

The audit lists 50 guns as missing or stolen, including 29 fully automatic weapons, 20 short-barrel shotguns, and one short barrel rifle. Last fall, 27-year-old Arnaldo Caraveo was shot and killed by Phoenix Police in a confrontation on I-17 near Downtown Phoenix. As it turns out, Caraveo had a fully automatic weapon and a long rifle, and both stolen from MCSO.

On Friday, MCSO officials say the agency cannot account for 50 weapons like the ones Caraveo had.

"As an example, we've had districts where they kept fully automatic weapons in a safe, and you can just check that weapon out for your shift, because there weren't enough to be distributed to all the employees," said Sheriff Penzone "In doing so, the counting of it was nothing more than a ledger. You just signed in and signed out. If you didn't sign in and sign out, no one knew who last possessed it. That was one of our biggest problems."

Sheriff Penzone also says over 200 members of the Sheriff's Posse do not have the proper training and background checks for their weapons. As a result, their right to carry guns for posse work has been temporarily suspended.

"I am just frustrated the good men and women of this organization and the posse are under a microscope because of the bad practices of a smaller percentage, and that is a shame," said Sheriff Penzone. "Their sacrifices for the community are extremely important."

Sheriff Penzone says his predecessor, Joe Arpaio, is to blame for failing to keep track of MCSO's guns. Arpaio says it's all politics.

"Yeah, I guess it's election time coming up," said Arpaio, in a phone interview. "He wants to run for reelection, so why not go after the previous administration."

MCSO wants to locate the missing and stolen weapons, and is reaching out to 7,300 current and former employees for any information that may help.