Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio Tries Diverting Media from Guilt Admission, ACLU Still Wants April Hearing

So what do you do if you've just undercut more than two decades of selling yourself to the public as "America's Toughest Sheriff" with a groveling admission to a federal judge that you're guilty of civil contempt and are ready to bend over for punishment?

If you're Sheriff Joe Arpaio, you raid a cat lady's house and blow out of proportion a few cockamamie death threats against you.

It's a classic move by ol' Joe, one he and his top flack Lisa Allen have pulled so many times over the years that you'd think the local media would see it coming.

But once again, the local fourth estate rolled over for these lame, prepackaged stories, the first involving a Thursday raid on the residence of a 67 year-old Cave Creek cat hoarder (alleged), whom the tough guys at the MCSO arrested.

The second tale involved three, count 'em, three separate death threats against Joe: one supposedly from some dude in Mesa, another allegedly from a California guy, and, lastly, from some crank in Canada who allegedly has made eight, meaningless online threats against Arpaio over the years.

See also: -Joe Arpaio Admits Guilt in Civil Contempt Case, Seeks to Avoid April Hearing

The most recent one from the Canada fellow claims he's going to blow up the sheriff's headquarters at 550 West Jackson Street "into a million pieces" if anyone intervenes in the plot to off Joe.

The press release for this ridiculousness has Arpaio contemplating extraditing the Canadian hoser to the U.S. so he can "face serious criminal charges."

Arpaio flunky and MCSO detective Brian Mackiewicz, is quoted as stating that, "It's a bit of a mystery as to why three death threats against the Sheriff have been lodged in such a short expanse of time."

Actually, there's no mystery, Brian. A real police agency would not do a press release every time its head honcho got a vain threat from some nutjob. No, a real police agency would investigate the threats first, duh.

But doing that would not serve to deflect the media from Arpaio and his Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan's doing an about-face and stating in a federal court filing in the ACLU's big racial profiling case Melendres v. Arpaio, that they, "consent to a finding of civil contempt against them and the imposition of remedies designed to address their conduct."

Translation: "Please spank us, fine us, whatever, just don't make us go through a four day hearing before federal Judge G. Murray Snow in April, which could result in a criminal contempt referral being made to the U.S. Attorney's Office."

In the court filing, Arpaio offers to apologize, start cooperating with the judge for real this time, establish a fund to compensate his victims with $350,000 in county money, and to give a local Hispanic civil rights group $100,000 of cash from himself and his fellow "defendants," which include Sheridan and others. Though only Sheridan and Arpaio out of the five defendants have their names on the document.

This bowing and scraping before Snow is hardly in line with Arpaio's tough guy persona.

Even the pro-Joe World Net Daily (aka, "World Nut Daily") was astounded by Joe's admission, and said as much in one online article, calling it "stunning."

Significantly, WND's readers are the kind of folks who have donated to Arpaio in the past, like when he was out there investigating President Obama's birth certificate.

Ironically, Mackiewicz is the MCSO detective Arpaio sent to Hawaii on that snipe hunt.

And Mackiewicz is also one of the detectives, according to our sources, who has been involved in a screwy investigation into Judge Snow, the U.S. Department of Justice, Attorney General Eric Holder and who knows who else, with the alleged assistance of controversial Seattle dude Playboy magazine once called "The Man Who Conned the Pentagon."

Over Arpaio's time as sheriff, he's ginned up countless bogus death threats against himself. One of the most risible involved an alleged plot to bump him off by the cartel, a Hispanic civil rights activist and then-Minuteman honcho and now alleged child molester Chris Simcox.

The MCSO wasted about a half-million bucks of taxpayer dollars on that one. The result? The paid informant who spun the tale disappeared.

Concerning Arpaio's guilt admission and attempt to get the April hearing canceled, the ACLU shot back yesterday with a response, which rejected the arguments of Arpaio's lawyers, pointing out that not all of the facts have yet been determined. This must be done in order to find out if Arpaio's contempt rises to the level of criminality.

Not to mention, the ACLU points out, that the MCSO has still not coughed up all of the documents and evidence that the court has ordered it to make available.

As to the MCSO's contention that canceling the April hearings would save taxpayer's moolah, the plaintiffs write:

Defendants argue that the evidentiary hearing should be vacated because of the cost to the taxpayers. However, in light of the many unresolved factual issues that go to the heart of Sheriff Arpaio's and the other contemnors' multiple violations of federal court orders, this cost argument must fail. The course of the litigation and the Defendants' compliance with the Court's orders has incurred a public cost, but the way to avoid such costs is for the Defendants to comply with the Court's orders in the first place, not to attempt to avoid discovery of the true reasons and intentions lying behind their failure to comply.

Couldn't have said it better myself. Oh, how the sheriff squirms, and these deflective stories about cat ladies and death threats are all part of the squirming, as he and his fellow defendants head to Snow's court today at 3:30 p.m. for yet another preliminary hearing, previewing the contempt trial set for April.

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