False Accusations by “Elite” Phoenix Arson Investigators? Missed Origin, Dog Fails, Lies to Suspect

Pat Andler, Fire Investigator, Andler & Associates, says the point of origin was in an electrical short in the attic, not from multiple origins with accelerant.

A report from Byron Pitts, ABC News Nightline, shows two residents who were falsely accused by Phoenix Fire Department investigators: Barbara Ann Sloan (accused of Arson in 2009) and Carl Caples (accused of Arson in 2009). Sloan believes the source of the corruption comes from Jack Ballentine, a highly-decorated police detective, who had no background in fire investigations. After the arson unit added Ballentine as Director and arson dog Sadie’s nose, the Phoenix arson squad’s case clearance skyrocketed. The squad went from making only 22 percent arrests in fire incidents in 2007 to making 65 percent in 2010, the highest in the United States.

Part 1 of the video: The country’s top arson investigation team is being accused of making questionable arrests.

Part 2 of the video: The nose of the unit’s arson dog is scrutinized, and an arson investigator’s stunning comments while working with the dog draw suspicion.

In one fire, where fire investigator Sam Richardson focused on the fire origin in a laundry room, where a clothing iron that was found face down, opened windows were discovered (presumed to feed the fire with oxygen), and a disconnected gas line in a laundry room (but no explosion) was discovered.However, the fire origin was reported by Sloan’s defense expert, Pat Andler, to be in the garage where a Toyota was parked. Even 9-1-1 calls reported fire showing from the garage. Fire investigator Sam Richards conceded that the fire DID start in the garage, and that he never even opened the hood of the Toyota that had been recalled for defects. He initially claimed the fire was intentionally started in the laundry room.

In the Caples case, Richardson, acting as interrogator, lied to defendant Carl Caples — saying that he had a video that showed him saying to Caples, “I got a good video of you coming back” and “I got a good eyewitness that saw you back there” … Neither statement was true. Caples is a former deputy sheriff, so he new Richardson’s game plan.

Come on I can’t talk to you. I’m not allowed to talk to you.

Sam Richardson,
before he talks to AZCentral 12 News Reporter
Wendy Halloran

FBI looks into wrongful-arrest claims in 2 Phoenix fires

Fire Investigator Richardson also took a picture of firefighters posing right at the location where the arson was “believed” to have been started. Caples described the photo as looking like a calendar photo right in the area where evidence would be contaminated. Andler agreed the photo session could cause cross contamination of evidence. It took threats of lawsuits and FOIA requests against the Phoenix Fire Department to get the photo of firefighters posing at the scene released.

The case against Caples claimed that multiple locations of accelerants were found in the living space of the house he rented — based on the dog’s nose. Positive hits from Sadie’s nose, were later discovered to be false. Lab results showed that ignitable liquid could not have been present. Sadie also falsely reported presence of accelerants in the Sloan case, as the lab results were also negative. Pat Andler found the fire started in the attic.

And why is Sadie’s nose unreliable? In one video segment, arson investigator Fred Andes is caught telling Sadie to “fake it” — a command to the dog to give a positive hit on accelerants.

Prosecutors dropped the case against Sloan, saying Arson Investigator Fred Andes was …

Inexperienced,

Had no evidence tying Barbara Ann Sloan to the fire,

and that all his conclusions were speculative.

In depositions, Fire investigator Sam Richardson replied that he came to a conclusion before any lab result were performed. The other fire investigator (also in deposition), Captain Fred Andes, stated didn’t know how many times his dog Sadie’s positive hits, were confirmed by a lab. He said he didn’t feel the need for the confirmations. Andes insisted the dog was right 100 percent of the time.

“I can’t talk about it until they finish the investigation … The last person I can trust right now is the media.”

— Phoenix Fire Captain Fred Andes

Pat Andler, Fire Investigator, Andler & Associates, believes there are more cases that have accused innocent people.

Barbara Sloan filed a civil suit against her insurance company, but lost.

Caples declined the offer of a probation plea, before his charges were dismissed; but he spent 16 months in jail before the case was dismissed. He spent $300,000 to defend himself. On Sept. 27, 2010, the day Caples’ trial was to begin, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office dropped the charges.

The Phoenix Fire Department has formed a Fire Investigation Review Committee.

The FBI is also investigating the Phoenix Fire Department for possible Civil Rights violations.

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