See also: Investigating Joe Arpaio
The U.S. Attorney's Office announced today that it has closed its investigation into criminal conduct by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas with no charges against either man.
The announcement came after 5 p.m. on the Friday afternoon before the Labor Day weekend -- apparently to avoid as much blowback as possible.
Former employees of Arpaio and Thomas, like fired Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott and prosecutor Lisa Aubuchon, also will escape criminal charges..
Here's what we received moments ago:
PHOENIX - Ann Birmingham Scheel, acting on behalf of the United States due to the recusal of U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo, announced today that her office is closing its investigation into allegations of criminal conduct by current and former members of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
The U.S. Attorney's Office has advised Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery of its decision not to pursue state criminal charges related to the investigation.
Ms. Scheel commended the joint investigative efforts of the prosecutors and the FBI special agents who conducted the investigation.
RELEASE NUMBER: 2012-194(Closing of MCSO and MCAO Investigation)
Game over. No more wondering if the feds are going to haul Arpaio off for whatever crimes he may have committed.
Do we think a criminal case could have been made? You know it.
targeting of political enemies to his "I was duped" remark about his former chief deputy's alleged crimes, Arpaio hasn't been held accountable by anyone.
Especially voters, who appear poised to re-elect him to a sixth term.
The investigation had never been officially acknowledged by the Department of Justice or the U.S. Attorney's Office -- though it is believed to have been going on for more than three years. In January 2010, the probe was widely reported when witnesses were summoned to a grand jury to talk about Arpaio's alleged abuse of power.
But now it's over, with November's election looming.
With Arpaio's long list of serious moral and potentially illegal lapses of judgment, this absolvement of the sheriff no doubt will assure the rest of the country that this really is the Wild West, where anything goes.
Andrew Kunasek, one of five members of the county Board of Supervisors and a victim of Arpaio and Thomas' vendettas, is furious about the decision, which he calls "an assault on our system of justice."
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A State Bar of Arizona investigation against Thomas, plus an internal investigation of Arpaio's office by the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, proved that Arpaio and Thomas' offices cooked up phony charges against Kunasek for approving a $14,000 sweep of county offices for listening devices.
One of the more riveting pieces of testimony during the Thomas proceeding last year was when Kunasek recalled a phone call from prosecutor Tom Liddy, who warned that Hendershott was targeting him in a plot to neuter the Board of Supervisors, which had been trying to rein in Arpaio's reckless spending habits.
"That Hendershott and Aubuchon are walking away from this -- I think it's a scourge on the Department of Justice," he fumes. "I am pissed at [U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder. His inaction here is a terrible abuse."