Arizona Sheriff Arpaio Cleared in Financial Probe

Authorities have completed their investigation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio on allegations of misusing taxpayer funds, deciding not to press charges against the Maricopa County Sheriff.

Representatives of the United States Attorney’s Office were reviewing the Sheriff’s Office for financial proprieties related to office issued credit cards, spending funds on items other than what they were originally earmarked for, and other financial items.

The financial investigation began in 2010 when other officials of Maricopa County requested help in evaluating if Sheriff Arpaio has misused taxpayer dollars.  The United States Attorney’s Office assisted the state of Arizona in performing the investigation and acting as “special deputy county attorneys”.

Specifically the investigation focused on the misuse of office credit cards, which would amount to the stealing of taxpayer dollars.  Although the investigation found that there were cases where credit card purchases were not documented properly, the investigation did not yield any evidence that Sheriff Arpaio’s office was stealing taxpayer funds.

In addition, the investigation reviewed if funds designated for a specific program were used instead to pay the salaries of officers working on other efforts.  Likewise, although the investigation noted that funds were not used for the originally designated program, the use of the funds was used for appropriate Sheriff Office matters and were not of a criminal nature.

The close of the investigation on Friday of two charges of misuse of financial funds is in addition to several other charges that were dismissed by federal authorities last year, which were likewise related to misuse of funds.

When asked how he felt about the closing of the investigation, Sheriff Arpaio responded that he was “very happy with that.  [Investigators] cleared my office of any abuse of power or wrongdoing that has been going on for years, and publicized almost every week for three years by the news media and critics.”

“I know my people do the right thing, they have a tough job, and because I’m a high-profile guy, sometimes there’s more interest given to what we do.”

Those who were supporting the investigation and are against Sheriff Arpaio’s approaches to law enforcement were displeased with the results.

Pablo Alvarado, the Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, issued a statement indicating “it is a miscarriage of justice.”

Sheriff Joe Arpaio has billed himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff”.  He is well known in general for taking a tough stance with criminals, housing them in a tent city when the county jail experienced overcrowding and in general not providing items provided by other jails that he considers luxury items.

However, Sheriff Arpaio has his share of critics as well, including those who believe that his approaches to address crimes rely on racial profiling.

Sheriff Arpaio is still defending himself against a civil suit that accuses him and his office of using racial profiling against Latinos.  The suit against originated in 2007 and states that Sheriff Arpaio’s office “launched a series of massive so-called ‘crime suppression sweeps’ that show a law enforcement agency operating well beyond the bounds of the law.”

The United States Department of Justice has also filed a civil suit against Sheriff Arpaio.

and in matters related to criminal investigations.

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.