Arpaio Corruption: The Feds Have Spoken, But Justice Won't Be Served Until the Sheriff's Indicted

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Perez made very clear both his intention to cooperate, if possible, with the MCSO and — if the MCSO refuses to cooperate — to sue the office to force compliance with a list of "remedial measures" meant to rein in a rogue, racist police force that Perez described as "broken."

While slamming the feds during his presser, Arpaio reluctantly signaled that he might cooperate.

County supervisors pray that he does. At stake is $155 million in federal aid that the county receives. That money potentially could be withheld if Arpaio does not comply. And it wouldn't hurt the MCSO much if the sheriff didn't comply. His office garners only about $5 million of the cash.

Arpaio has 60 days to come to terms with the feds. After that, the legal sturm und drang could drag on for who knows how long — though there always is the remote possibility that the MCSO could be taken into receivership by the feds in the meantime. A more likely result would be a court-enforced consent decree, like the kind the DOJ entered into with the Los Angeles Police Department in the wake of the Rampart scandal.

It is not in Perez's purview as head of the Civil Rights Division to bring criminal charges against Arpaio, but indictments of Arpaio and his henchmen are necessary for justice to be done.

Particularly since much of what Perez outlines in his letter is criminal.

It is illegal under federal statute for officials to deprive individuals of their constitutional rights "under the color of law." It also is illegal for two or more individuals to conspire to do this. There are criminal penalties for both offenses.

Is there any doubt that in retaliating against his critics, Arpaio has done just this? Not to mention the intentional discrimination, physical abuse, and targeting of those with brown skin?

Perez said the criminal probe of Arpaio is ongoing and that he couldn't speak to it.

My sources say the U.S. Attorney's Office has not been able to make the case against Arpaio criminally. In the past, it has been suggested that the whole matter is so political that the U.S. Attorney's Office, in the minds of those in the Obama administration, must wait until after the November 2012 election to act.

However, in the wake of the DOJ's latest move, there's chatter that this is part of a new "narrative" that Obama-ites wish to project.

That is, as they failed Latinos nationally on immigration reform and the DREAM Act, pursuing Arpaio for his racial-profiling ways will show Latinos that the president really is on their side, that he wants to box in Hispanics' Public Enemy Number One.

I couldn't care less what the motivation is; I just want to see Joe Arpaio get his.

The feds should flip his underlings to testify against him by charging them and threatening them with serious prison time. Do whatever it takes.

Because no matter how good a court-monitored consent decree might come out of either the DOJ's negotiations with the MCSO or the rulings in Melendres, there will be no justice until Arpaio and his henchmen are perp-walked.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons