While Sheriff Joe Arpaio was testifying in federal court last week in his civil contempt trial, there's been movement in another lawsuit that could cause more trouble for Arpaio and taxpayers.
Last January, as part of Arpaio's crusade to arrest unauthorized immigrants in workplace raids, the Sheriff's Office actually went after the business owners for a change, arresting the owner of Uncle Sam's restaurants, Bret Frimmel, and manager, Lisa Norton. Charges against them were recently dismissed, and the county is getting sued over the arrests.
"They were wrongfully arrested and wrongfully prosecuted," attorney Leon Silver tells New Times. "Everything we've learned about [the MCSO's] investigation should have told them the owner did nothing wrong."
The allegations in this case are eerily similar to those in the Green Acre dog-deaths case, in which attorneys for the son and daughter-in-law of U.S. Senator Jeff Flake claim MCSO personnel purposely lied to get an indictment out of the grand jury.
A judge ruled earlier this month that the search warrant executed in the Uncle Sam's case was invalid, as the judge wrote the search warrant was obtained by way of a "reckless disregard for the truth."
"If they had been honest with magistrate judges, they would've never gotten a search warrant," Silver says. "If they had been honest with the grand jury, they would've never gotten an indictment."
Yet the mug of the Uncle Sam's owner was pasted everywhere, as after Arpaio's employment raids had landed more than 750 arrests, the Sheriff's Office had never arrested the ones doing the hiring until then.
Arpaio, the county, and others named in the lawsuit were just served today.
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"You can imagine what this has done to my client's business," Silver says. He adds that Arpaio's fans have also berated the company and its owners over social media, e-mail, and telephone, chastising them for their arrests.
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