Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne's office announced today that it won't file charges against Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu or his ex-lover, Jose Orozco, related to the pair's messy break-up.
As a bombshell Phoenix New Times article by Monica Alonzo revealed last year, Orozco -- who'd been employed by Babeu to help run his campaign's Web and Twitter sites -- accused the sheriff of threatening him with deportation. Babeu, in turn, claimed his former boyfriend had stolen his online identity and hacked into his Web sites without authorization.
Solicitor General Dave Cole, who oversaw the seven-month investigation into the allegations after Horne (a Republican, like Babeu) recused himself from the case, said in a statement that there was no evidence that the sheriff committed a crime. Cole said Oroszo potentially could be charged with harassment, but doing that would be "an inappropriate use of already-limited [prosecutorial] resources."
Orozco had claimed that Babeu threatened to have him deported after their break-up in September 2011 unless Orozco promised to keep their relationship a secret.
Crime or not, the scandal outed the anti-illegal-immigrant sheriff as a homosexual who dated a Mexican immigrant, damaging his reputation among fellow right-wingers. Babeu dropped his bid for Congress three months after the New Times story broke and focused on winning re-election as sheriff.
Babeu won the Republican primary election last week against three competitors and will face a Democrat and an Independent in the general election.
We'll have further coverage on Babeu's so-called "exoneration" later today. Meantime, below are the three reports on the case released by the AG's office:
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.