Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections
(Page 2 of 2)

Arizona sheriff ups the ante against his foes

Joe Arpaio has escalated his tactics, not only defying the federal government on immigration but launching repeated investigations of those who criticize him.

December 12, 2009|By Nicholas Riccardi

Latino community leaders say Arpaio has become more aggressive since he was stripped of some authority in the 287(g) program.

"It's actually gotten worse rather than better," said Salvador Reza, an activist who added that some immigrants don't dare turn the lights on in their homes at night for fear that Arpaio's deputies would knock at their doors.

A Homeland Security spokesman declined to comment, referring a reporter to statements Secretary Janet Napolitano gave to a liberal advocacy group in Washington.

Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, said Arpaio "was unwilling to accept that there were standards that needed to be met. He wanted to go off on his own. And so that's where we had a parting of ways." She acknowledged, however, that state law would allow him to continue making his arrests.

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a civil rights investigation into Arpaio's tactics. The sheriff has refused to cooperate and has called for an investigation of the investigators.

As Arpaio has fenced with the Obama administration, he has become embroiled in a sometimes-surreal battle with the five county supervisors who oversee his budget. Amid the recession, they have cut the sheriff's budget by 12.2%.

Arpaio and Thomas filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against the county supervisors, administrators and several judges who have ruled against the two in prior cases.

Arpaio and Thomas contended there was a conspiracy to assign the Stapley prosecution to an anti-Thomas judge, part of an effort to cover up what they call a wasteful county effort to build a new courthouse.

County officials noted that Arpaio and Thomas have sued them six times in efforts to regain power over their budgets -- and they lost every time.

Tensions escalated this week when the county attorney filed criminal charges against the presiding judge of the county's criminal courts, alleging bribery and obstruction of justice for ruling against Arpaio and prosecutors in some of those previous legal battles.

Wilcox, whom Thomas charged this week with violating state laws by voting on government contracts for a charitable organization that gave one of her businesses a loan, said she had been stunned by the sheriff's conduct.

"They have made life hell on everybody," she said of Arpaio and Thomas."Every time you speak out, they investigate you."

"Racketeering? That's just crazy," she added. "We're becoming the laughingstock of America."

nicholas.riccardi@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|