Joe Arpaio and the Feds: Grand Jury Investigating SCA Account, Possible Extortion Charges, Reports Channel 12

Joe Dana's report on the ongoing federal grand jury probe of Arpaio

Channel 12's Joe Dana reported last night on the federal grand jury investigation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Chief Deputy David Hendershott, and the MCSO, and offered some tidbits regarding the probe from confidential sources.

The most intriguing of these is that Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard's office is sharing info with the feds regarding the AG's investigation into the Sheriff's Command Association, or SCA, which donated money to the state Republican Party for a sexually explicit campaign ad maligning Arpaio's political rival in the 2008 general election, Dan Saban.

Donors to SCA included high-ranking MCSO command staff, who had funds deducted from their paychecks to go to SCA. There have been reports that a state grand jury was looking into the matter.

Dana's news segment suggested that the federal grand jury was also looking into allegations of extortion against MCSO bigwigs, particularly related to Hendershott pressuring Maricopa County officials on the MCSO's budget.

Both Wilson and Smith testified that same month, as did MCSO's Chief Financial Officer Loretta Barkell.

A county IT expert was called to testify as well. And the feds have subpoenaed backup files of MCSO e-mails that Hendershott and other sheriff's office muck-a-mucks believed had been permanently deleted, but that the county maintained. 

Joe's gendarmes attempted to seize the e-mails in March, but were rebuffed by county officials.

The e-mails were also sought by plaintiffs' lawyers in the federal civil rights lawsuit Melendres vs. Arpaio.

Channel 12 makes much of a "new" federal grand jury being convened, but it basically sounds like the same investigation, perhaps with different grand jurors. Grand juries are always going on down at the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse. 

All the same, if Dana's sources for the report are solid, and it sounds like they are, Arpaio and his henchmen may ultimately face a federal indictment. 

That's promising, as some of the smaller MCSO fish are certain to roll, perhaps delivering the county's Moby Dick to a federal prosecutor's harpoon.

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