Federal authorities announced Friday that they’re closing their abuse-of-power investigation into Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona without filing charges against him.Authorities were investigating America’s self-proclaimed toughest sheriff for his part in failed public corruption cases against officials who were odds with him. Arpaio brought cases against a judge and two county officials in 2009.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel released a statement saying her office “is closing its investigation into allegations of criminal conduct” by current and former members of the sheriff‘s and county attorney’s offices.
Scheel didn’t elaborate, saying only that County Attorney Bill Montgomery was advised of the decision “not to pursue state criminal charges related to the investigation.” Scheel, who is based in Arizona, said she was acting on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The federal probe focused specifically on the investigative work of the sheriff’s anti-public-corruption squad that handled the failed cases against the officials. In a separate probe, the U.S. Justice Department has accused Arpaio’s office of a wide range of civil rights violations, and in an unrelated case, a federal judge has yet to rule in a civil case brought by a group of Latino plaintiffs that claimed Arpaio and his deputies engaged in racial profiling.
The 79-year-old sheriff and his top ally, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, were embroiled in a three-year feud with county officials and judges and defended their investigations as necessary for rooting out corruption in government.
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