Deputies with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office paid visits to at least seven rank-and-file county employees over the weekend, attempting to question them about the court tower project, county spending, and other topics apparently somehow connected to the sheriff's wide-ranging "corruption" probe.
That investigation has already resulted in indictments for two county supervisors and (most bizarrely) criminal charges against the presiding judge of the criminal division of the Maricopa County Superior Court, whose only crime appears to be issuing rulings contrary to the desires of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
Cari Gerchick, spokeswoman for the county's office of civil litigation department, confirmed the visits to New Times, saying, "We started getting calls Saturday that a couple of Arpaio's goons were showing up at people's houses -- and yes, you can quote me on that."
Gerchick says lawyers from her office have told employees that they don't have to talk to the sheriff's investigators, but "you can if you want -- and if you want an attorney, we will provide one for you."
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Among those visited: about a half-dozen employees of the Office of Management and Budget, most of them no higher than middle managment, Gerchick said. The county's head of Facilities Management was also visited.
But it's not clear whether the sheriff managed to gain any useful information for his "investigation."
"They asked questions, but I don't know that anybody got to the point of answering," Gerchick tells us.
We bet the home visits still achieved some purpose, though: Can you say "intimidation"?