At the conclusion of her four-page letter to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, explaining the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office's rationale for dropping its criminal investigation into Sheriff Joe Arpaio's and ex-County Attorney Andrew Thomas' offices, Ann Birmingham Scheel offered an incredibly lame summation of four years of inaction and incompetence by federal authorities.

"[If] there is one lesson to be drawn from the arrests, investigations, and lawsuits of the past few years," the assistant U.S. attorney wrote, "it is that prosecutors, in seeking justice, must exercise their charging discretion with great care."

Lovely sentiment, Ann. And we're glad to see that your office is tiptoeing through the legal niceties — leaving Arpaio, if he sees fit, to sink his fangs into more innocent victims.

But I, and others, are drawing another conclusion from your cowardly letter, and the craven way your office announced that it was washing its hands of its long probe into Arpaio and Thomas' blatant and unconstitutional abuses of power.

That is, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, and the Justice Department are worthless at holding accountable law enforcement agencies run amok. They cannot be trusted to protect us when local tyrants — no better than mobsters — operate illegally under the color of law to harass, intimidate, falsely charge, arrest, and imprison anybody from undocumented corn vendors to judges to county supervisors to reporters and newspaper editors.

Ironically, when it comes to the really small fry, the big, bad feds will throw the book at 'em — and then some.

For example, local white-collar perp and former state Representative Richard Miranda recently pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud. Miranda was sentenced to 27 months in the federal pen for ripping off hundreds of thousands of dollars from two nonprofits he headed.

Sure, that's bad, but what if you're Sheriff Joe, and you grab $100 million in protected taxpayer funds for jail enhancement, using the money illegally to finance pet projects, such as anti-immigrant sweeps and vindictive investigations of your political enemies?

Well, then, the feds don't even bother to wag a finger at you.

"[T]he funds were simply shifted from one law enforcement purpose to another," Scheel shrugs of the $100 million in her letter to Montgomery.

Scheel goes on to claim there was "insufficient evidence of criminal intent" and "no evidence of false statements from . . . Arpaio or [his] former chief deputy David Hendershott."

What a colossal load. You'll recall that Arpaio falsely told the press that the swiped $100 million was because of a "computer-type glitch."

But Arpaio's former chief financial officer Loretta Barkell countered that claim, telling Channel 12 that she had informed both Hendershott and Arpaio "every single year for the past 10 years" that the MCSO was violating the law by siphoning cash from the jail-enhancement fund.

According to Barkell, Arpaio "waved his hand and said he was not allowing the bean counters to manage his operations."

The feds are aware of what Barkell has to say because she testified before a federal grand jury looking into Arpaio in 2010. Moreover, her testimony can be backed up with records galore from the county, as well as from the testimony of other county officials.

Keep in mind that several assistant U.S. attorneys were cross-deputized as "special deputy county attorneys" by the county Board of Supervisors in 2010. By Scheel's own admission, the U.S. Attorney's Office had "broad" investigatory powers to look into federal and state allegations.

Nonetheless, Arpaio, Hendershott, and their willing minions skate.

Meanwhile, state Representative Ben Arredondo was indicted this year on bribery and other charges, allegedly for taking $6,000 in sports-event tickets as a bribe from a fake FBI front company.

Arredondo pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from a three-year undercover investigation while the Republican turned Democrat was still a Tempe city councilman.

As with Miranda, I'm not saying such charges are not serious. But they are dwarfed by the mountainous misdeeds of Thomas, Arpaio, Hendershott, and their fellow co-conspirators.

Scheel's excuse seems to be that it's just so hard to make the case against the really bad criminals. You know, the ones who use their authority as cops and prosecutors to gin up charges against critics and foes, to investigate them as a form of harassment, and to arrest and imprison them in an effort to destroy them.

Such activities are violations of federal statute 18 USC Section 242, which makes it a crime for law enforcement officials to deprive someone of his or her constitutional rights "under the color of law."

And if two or more people are involved such wrongdoing, they can be charged under federal code 18 USC Section 241, which makes it illegal to conspire to abridge someone's rights under the constitution.

A comprehensive list of those who have been the targets of criminal acts pursuant to 18 USC Section 241 and 242 by Thomas' County Attorney's Office or Arpaio's Sheriff's Office perhaps could fill this column.

A few of the most well-known victims of Thomas and Arpaio's threats, intimidation, and frame-ups include county supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox, county workers Sandi Wilson and Susan Schuerman, ex-Superior Court judges Barbara Mundell and Anna Baca, former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, civil rights activist Sal Reza, former state Attorney General Terry Goddard, and Village Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey and CEO Jim Larkin.

And yet, none of these men and women rate a mention by Scheel in her letter. The only victim she deigns to discuss is former Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe, whom Thomas, his accomplice ex-Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon, Hendershott, and Arpaio conspired to falsely charge with bribery. This, because they anticipated Donahoe would rule against them in a hearing in his court.

Why did Scheel feel the need to rationalize federal inaction on Donahoe, while ignoring all the rest?

Because Arizona Supreme Court Presiding Disciplinary Judge William O'Neil — writing earlier this year on behalf of the panel that disbarred Thomas and Aubuchon and suspended Thomas' pawn, former Deputy County Attorney Rachel Alexander — concluded that Thomas and Aubuchon had committed perjury by bringing a false criminal complaint against Donahoe.

Moreover, O'Neil found that Aubuchon and Thomas, in conspiring to deprive Donahoe of his rights, were guilty of 18 USC Section 241.

"Were this a criminal case, we are confident that the evidence would establish this conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt," O'Neil wrote.

Also, O'Neil made it abundantly clear that Hendershott and Arpaio were part of this conspiracy. O'Neil noted that Hendershott told others it was Arpaio's idea to charge Donahoe.

And yet Scheel states in her missive that the U.S. Attorney's Office "cannot bear the heavy burden of proof necessary to obtain a criminal conviction" of this passel of rogue prosecutors and cops.

Thing is, if Scheel really believes this, why will neither she nor anyone else at the federal office appear before the press and the public to answer questions about its decisions?

Remember, Scheel dropped her bomb with a three-paragraph press release just before the Labor Day weekend began, and even the office flack has been forbidden to answer press inquiries about the decision.

Scheel's letter to Montgomery only surfaced after the fact; it was not part of the Friday release, which broadly stated that the U.S. Attorney's Office was "closing its investigation into allegations of criminal conduct by current and former members of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office."

The simple answer to the question posed above is that the feds' move to end this four-year probe, which began under the George W. Bush administration, is indefensible.

Recently appointed U.S. Attorney John Leonardo recused himself from the Arpaio probe last month, which probably is why Scheel, who had been acting U.S. Attorney until her new boss was sworn in, became the bearer of bad news.

Why did Leonardo recuse himself?

In 2010, when Leonardo still was a Pima County judge, he ruled on bogus charges brought against Supervisor Wilcox, finding that County Attorney Thomas had formed an "alliance with the Maricopa County Sheriff who misused the power of his office to target members of the [Board of Supervisors] for criminal investigation."

Which, obviously, sounds like a violation of 18 USC Section 241.

Former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, when presented with similar abuse-of-power allegations against Sheriff Arpaio in 2009 by Channel 5's Morgan Loew, said, "I would go to a grand jury."

The Republican continued, "I would work very closely with the civil rights criminal division in Washington, D.C. And, based on the information that I have, I would seek an indictment."

Chad Snow, co-founder of Citizens for a Better Arizona, the group responsible for recalling ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce and which now is targeting Arpaio in the November election, noted that numerous other current and former law enforcement officials publicly have accused Arpaio and Thomas of wrongdoing.

"Every other finder of fact or law enforcement professional who has looked at Arpaio's actions has concluded that there is ample evidence of criminality," he explained on the eve of a CBA demonstration in front of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix over the federal inaction. "What did all of those people see that Ann Birmingham Scheel didn't?"

Indeed, Scheel's announcement sends a dangerous message to all prosecutors and law enforcement: Trample the Constitution at will, and there will be no criminal consequences for your actions.

"If I did something wrong, there would be indictments floating all over the place," Arpaio stated at a press conference after the announcement, where he thanked the feds for ending the investigation. "The bottom line is that we were cleared."

Not cleared. Not innocent. Just un-indicted.

Worse even than the feds showing themselves to be gutless is the colossal present they've given Arpaio two months before the election.

Did I honestly expect them to perp-walk Arpaio, Thomas, Hendershott and all of the rest of these KGB-wanna-bes?

I had fun fantasizing about that, but no. I'm far too cynical to think that law enforcement will go after law enforcement as it should, when necessary.

But the least the Obama administration could have done is wait until after the election to throw Arpaio this big, wet kiss. After all, the feds sat on their hands for four years! Would it have killed them to wait two more months, to have given Democrat Paul Penzone a better shot at ousting this tyrant?

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39 comments
midwestexplorer81
midwestexplorer81 topcommenter

Sounds like Joe is as corrupt as any other county sheriff. They're ALL corrupt and use their power to screw with political opponents and people they don't like. The reason Joe is the only one given so much attention though is because he doesn't like illegal aliens. If you like illegal aliens so much let them in your house and share your money with them, don't make the rest of us become a charity.

Lilgangstafortyblunt
Lilgangstafortyblunt

Worst sherrif ever.....junk, fraud, ass*ole....law enforcement officials that break the law should be thrown away forever......

Lilgangstafortyblunt
Lilgangstafortyblunt

F**k sheriff joe..the most racist, stupid, law breaking sheriff ever...disgusting...he's 800 f**king years old....he is senile and probably has dememtia...no F88king public office for anyone over 65 ever, period...who the f**k wants crusty old dinosaurs running this country...crusty old dinosaurs...sorry a young 40 yr old sheriff could do 10 times the job that this partisan schmuck has done...he is a f**king law breaker in law enforcement...he should get double the sentence...he makes me embarrassed to be white, an american, and an iraqi slaughter vet...

jamesbuechler50
jamesbuechler50

I read the New Times because I believe the only way to know the truth is to hear both sides. However, I rarely give full credibility to NT because as a moderate and as somebody who has been negatively affected by illegal immigration they NEVER talk about how it has affected the American worker. I along with many others have either lost jobs or no longer receive a fair wage because of illegal immigration. Never mind the fact its affected far more than just jobs. Over 50% of babies born in Arizona are delivered at the expense of tax payers. And most of those births are from women who are here illegally. Then there is education, and other public services. Why don't they ever talk about that?

shebeforlorn
shebeforlorn

You, you and me are aware and accountable for our own failure to maintain a checks and balances procedure for law enforcement, for justice in our community. The MCSO is outnumbered by the people who want to shut them down. A cage of cowardly lions is a great description for we the people.

shebeforlorn
shebeforlorn

Only the citizens [the people] of Maricopa County can drive Joe Arpaio from power. We the people… right? I hope the people can get a hold of the case file, all that blood shed done by the MCSO and dish it out to the people who keep them on the payroll. Joe Arpaio and his subordinates remain on the payroll because the people of Maricopa County allow it. There are many people in this county who’s lives are ruined because they resisted law enforcement, enough people to populate a colony and they struggle day to day to recover from the inescapable system of law enforcement. The people of this county pay for the cost of living for every employee at the MCSO who live in our community. By our own tax paying efforts, we accept the possibility that our sons and daughters could suffer permanent life damage or death for standing against law enforcement. When you look into the eyes of your child as they prepare to live in this community, the possibility is in their future. Roll the bones. This article clearly states the injustice that should motivate the people of Maricopa County to end all possibilities of injustice, but do the people really want to stop complaining and resolve the problem?! That is unclear.

az4willy
az4willy

They dropped the witch hunt because they knew they had nothing against the Great Joe Arpaio

the political witch hunt is officially over! Thank god! this state still has enough common sense not blame the great Sheriff for doing his job and rounding up and deporting the illegals who are destroying the very make up this country. Im so tired of hearing about the poor illegals! too bad they are not are problem or responsibility ! go to your home country and fix your toilet homelands and stop coming here to turn us into toilets too! Thank-God for Sheriff Joe! well im off to campaign h.q. for the best Sheriff  in the U.S,. And will be there on the election night celebration of his re election in Nov. God bless America and thank him for giving us true heros like Sheriff Joe!

alexmez
alexmez

Sheriff Joe did nothing wrong....your either just jealous, love illegals, or your boss told you to write this story.....there is a reason your newspaper is free....nobody would pay for crap articles and 47 pages of strip club and escort ads.....we all know obama  is a piece of trash thats driving this country off a cliff

premiermember
premiermember

Wow, a case where the Feds. waste so many dollars and try to tell us who we can elect and what they can do. Must have been Bush' fault. Why listen to the voice of the people who are legal and live here. By the way, how many of your advertisers are upstanding citizens? Oh, yeah freedom. Know it and understand it. If you have a problem with the majority, move on.

robert_graham
robert_graham

You guys are just sore losers. Ha ha ha ha!!!!

robert_graham
robert_graham

So what's the big deal about show me your papers anyway?  Is is also racial profiling to ask for drivers license and insurance card?

robert_graham
robert_graham

Face the facts that you lost.  Show me your papers is now law.  You are just sore losers. I told you all before to watch what's next. So there!!!

mbriner
mbriner

Great Story !

 

But let’s look at the big picture.  The Sheriff gets a huge reprieve PRIOR to election day.  Why?  Well think about this:  He had his big investigation over to Hawaii to work on the Obama birth certificate thing.  Something tells me that good old Joe may actually have scored big time, gotten the goods on Mr. Obama.

Then, to shut him up, give him a reprieve by dropping the case.  Why else if it was such a sure thing to convict Arpaio in the first place.  They are all politicians, doesn’t matter which party that they are from.  Just a fact of life.

I’m sure I am not the only one writing to you on this.  And if true…what the hell DID Arpaio’s investigators find out?

 

Mike B.

Glendale AZ

jimnbubba
jimnbubba

The illegal lovers are finding that they can't use the Feds and our Constitution to their advantage anymore,it's about time

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

Goddamn it.

 

I wonder if this has to do with Leonardo's appointment as U.S. Attorney? He did rule that the Flaccid Fraud as well as Candy Andy and the Miscreants abused their power when he was a Pima County judge.

 

I strongly suggest that the DOJ take another look at this operation and tell us again how these two corrupt imbeciles get to skate on serious allegations such as these. President Obama will not win the election if he can't direct his attorney general to indict a pair of criminals.

bgray59
bgray59

Rule of law not the mob prevails.

Tommy_Collins
Tommy_Collins

A wet kiss, Mr. Lemons? I expected this story to somehow involve the Pinal sheriff based on the headline from the home page....

haldonahue
haldonahue

@IrishFire99 Look what they did in the torture investigations...

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Mr. Lemons, An outstanding courageous article. You hit it out of the ball park! Thank you. This has shown the public that justice is unbalanced and tipped against the people. Now its left for the voters to vote Arpaio and his enablers out of office. This now has become the public's problem. You are very much at risk for harm in this out of control county and state.

coyote_slim
coyote_slim

Fine kettle of rotting fish. Federal level, state level, AND county level. Justice is dead in Amerika and more so in Maricopastan. Punk-ass warlords rule the roost and are guaranted impunity. Well and, immunity from prosecution. Maricopastan. US Attorneys are flaccid and lickspittle. Justice is dead in Amerika and more so in Maricopastan.

If there can be no justice, there can be no peace. Ever and more so in Maricopastan.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

On Friday, I e-mailed the following to Ann Scheel.

 

If law enforcement doesn't have to obey the law,

 

WHY THE FUCK SHOULD WE.

Screw you, you coward and screw Arpaio, the DOJ, the U.S. Attorneys Office, and Federal law in general.

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

 @alexmez Get informed!  It's time for a new sheriff. Tired of the reign of terror and 20 years of entrenched power and "control". The sheriff is NOT a joke but a depraved monster in our midst. His enablers, like those who thought Hitler was great, also have blood on their hands. Truly sickening.

 

If There Were Any Victims..?" by Bill Louis

 

 

http://www.iftherewereanyvictims.com/

waltervanhorn
waltervanhorn

 @JoeArpaioFan

 you nothing about the law do you dumdass. ecveryone has to show drivers license and insurance when pulled over not that you are a born amerian remeber you could be one of the ones that is harrassed by that bigot of a sheriff and his cronies. If you want to live in fear the rest of your life you need to open up your eyes and really take alook at what this country is really turning into a highly racially discriminatory nation only let in who we want like theterrorists that caused the destruction of the twin towers. If you got the money we will let you in but if you are poor immigrant watch out Joe will get you american born or not.We need to stand up to this tyrannt. No more abuse of power and use the money allotted to the jails foer the jails not for your own personnel use for what you want to use it for instead of what its intended for.

waltervanhorn
waltervanhorn

 @mbriner

 No he did not get anything swe vthe people got something and its the reaming of your life who do you think paid for them to go there it wasn't the sheriff it was you the tax payer. he never uses his own money its always yours. who do you think is paying for his attorneys and who do you think is paying for all the lawsuits against maricopa county sheriff it is us the tax payers and thats why he thinks his shit don't stink. every thing about the man is a lie , and you all have fallen for it hook, line and sinker. satan runs the sheriffs office and his army of minions don't care they hurt remember this

Tommy_Collins
Tommy_Collins

 @jimnbubbaPlease define "illegal lovers" for me and explain your assertion regarding how 'they' might be using the Feds and our Constitution to their advantage. Your comment is interesting but seems shallow.

 

waltervanhorn
waltervanhorn

 @jimnbubba

 your as ignorant as the rest of the country with out the immigrants are you willing to cut grass in 110 degree weather or pick crops by hand i don't think so so get off your high horse and really take a look at how things are ran. taked for instance in the 80's we were on the drug war thing right before election time and what happened after the elections it went away. what do you really think is going to happen with immigration after the elections it goes away. what we need to do is bring back our troops and send them to mexico to take out these drug cartels and to eradicate all who stand in the way. we let anybody else into the country to go to school why all of a sudden is it only mexicans that are the problem. look at who bom ed the world trade center and you tell me who is atfasult they expired visas did we hunt them down no and they were trained by americans not illegals so you really need to get your facts in order and stop listening to bigots like arpiao and that dumb box of rocks govenor brewer before openning up your dumb ass mouth

Slowriter59
Slowriter59

 @MaskedMagician1967

 Eric Holder won't go after anyone in a high, visible place. Same deal with the bankers, go after a few small fry to make it look like he's doing something, while settling huge frauds with the banks for a pittance of what they stole, and bonuses for the executives who perpetrated them. 

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

@shadeaux14 Innocent until proven guilty mean anything to you?

alexmez
alexmez

 @waltervanhorn  

I own a swimming pool company and a mow my own grass.....your a dumbass.....how many illegals are in your garage right now?????

 

 

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

 It should mean something to you Rachel. Given that you signed your name to the bullshit amended RICO complaint and had a hand in helping your idiot boss abuse the taxpayers' trust and the power of his office.

azweasel
azweasel

 @Yourproductsucks 

Tell that to the innocent people in tent city wearing pink underwear and eating green baloney. Wake up you fucking moron. 

 

GreenHornet
GreenHornet

 @Yourproductsucks  @shadeaux14 Problem is, all Arpaio cares about is the perp walk. Arrest 'em. Charge 'em. Charges thrown out. Accused sues. County pays. And the sex criminals go uninvestigated.

 
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