Saturday, July 20, 2024

Department of Justice Issues Warning as AZ’s Arpaio Served with Lawsuit

The self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America was threatened with a lawsuit by Justice Department officials if he does not cooperate with their ongoing investigation into allegations he discriminates against Hispanics.

A federal grand jury in Phoenix is looking into allegations that Arpaio used his power to investigate and intimidate political opponents and that his office misappropriated government funds, sources said.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Randy Parraz plans to serve Arpaio’s office with his own lawsuit Wednesday that accuses Maricopa County and five sheriff’s deputies of malicious prosecution, retaliatory prosecution and abuse of process.  Parraz, who helped launch Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability to expose Sheriff Arpaio’s abusive practices, was wrongfully arrested in 2008 during a protest when he led an anti-Arpaio activist group.

Arpaio is known for unconventional methods of implementing discipline and order in Maricopa County such as forcing inmates to wear pink underwear and work in chain gangs, but in recent years the sheriff has come under fire by civil rights groups.  The Justice Department launched an investigation in March 2009 that is focusing on whether Arpaio’s department engaged in “discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures.” Other allegations include that his jail discriminated against Hispanic inmates and that even bilingual jail guards were required to speak to inmates only in English.

The embattled sheriff also faces accusations by some Maricopa County officials that he begun meritless corruption investigations of officials who have criticized his policies or opposed his requests.

Officials at the Justice Department said the threat of such a lawsuit is rare and comes only after a highly unusual resistance by Arpaio to cooperate with them. Next week they will meet with sheriff’s attorneys in a last-ditch effort to forestall litigation.

“The sheriff’s office is cooperating fully with the grand jury investigation and has complete confidence that the inquiry will clear it of any wrongdoing,” Asheesh Agarwal, an attorney for Arpaio said. “The office has always fulfilled its responsibilities truthfully, honorably, and in full compliance with state and federal law.”

Salvador Reza, an organizer with the Puente human rights movement, says lawyers with the Justice Department have asked him about the treatment of inmates in Arpaio’s jail.

“Their questions are in regards to racial profiling, questions about what are the practices when people get stopped,” said Reza.

Washington Post

AZ Central


  1. This craziness has to stop! It’s about time the federal government is stepping in and thank goodness we have candidates who are willing to take a stand for our community. Good luck Randy Parraz!