Maricopa County Craziness

John Leonardo, Arizona's New U.S. Attorney, is No Fan of Sheriff Arpaio

See also: Andrew Thomas' Total Defeat on Mary Rose Wilcox Case: An Analysis of Judge Leonardo's Ruling

See also: John Leonardo, Obama Nominee for Arizona U.S. Attorney, Said In 2010 Ruling That Sheriff Arpaio "Misused the Power of His Office"

The new Arizona U.S. Attorney, John Leonardo, will inherit a number of cases when he takes office, likely sometime next week.

One of those cases will be the ongoing investigation into whether Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arapio abused the power of his office.

And Leonardo, judging from a past opinion, believes the answer to the question is "yes."

In 2010, the former Pima County Superior Court judge reviewed the facts in the attempted prosecutions of Maricopa Supervisors Mary Rose Wilcox and Don Stapley and decided that Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas were railroading the officials.

He tossed the indictment against Mary Rose Wilcox and agreed with her lawyers that Thomas had severe conflicts of interest in the cases.

Thomas had forged a "...political alliance with the Maricopa County Sheriff who misused the power of his office to target members of the (Board of Supervisors) for criminal investigation," Leonardo wrote in his order.

Thomas, of course, was disbarred by the state Supreme Court after evidence during hearings proved that he had created an "unholy collaboration" with Arpaio to abuse their power while going after the Supervisors, lawyers and other county officials.

Yeah, we know we reminded you of Leonardo's 2010 statement back in March, but since Leonardo was confirmed for his new job by the U.S. Senate on Friday, we thought it was worth bringing it up again.

Leonardo still must have his confirmation signed by President Obama and be sworn in, but officials at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix expect to see him at work by next week.

If anyone is going to do something with this well-evidenced, but highly political case against Arpaio, it just might be Leonardo.


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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.