A Federal Grand Jury has been investigating Sheriff Joe Arpaio for abuse of power in Maricopa County, Arizona since January 7th, 2010.
The investigation is in regards to Sheriff Joe’s actions against those in Maricopa County that disagree and/or criticize him.
Sheriff Joe and his close friend, the County Attorney General Andrew Thomas have filed criminal charges against two county supervisors; dozens of other county workers are under investigation and the pair have filed a federal racketeering lawsuit accusing the entire county political structure of conspiring against them.
Sheriff Joe has also been investigating Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, State Attorney General Terry Goddard, County Manager David Smith, and Presiding Criminal Judge Gary Donahoe, and their staffs.
December 9th, 2009, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint against Superior Court’s criminal division chief, Judge Gary Donahoe.
County Attorney Andrew Thomas spokesperson, Michael Scerbo stated in a news release that Donahoe is being accused of three felony counts consisting of bribery, obstructing a criminal investigation, and hindering prosecution.
Judge Donahoe was the judge that ordered a sheriff’s deputy to jail for taking a defense attorney’s notes during a hearing and making copies.
Sheriff Joe has a long history of abusing his power, but the Grand Jury investigation is not considering other abuses such as: questionable immigration sweeps, shackling women prisoners while giving birth, terrorizing psychotic inmates, breaking a Hispanic woman’s jaw, and the deaths of at least six people while incarcerated in his jails.
41 million dollars in lawsuits have been paid out so far by the taxpayers of Maricopa County.
February 13th, 2010, a federal judge found grounds for sanctioning the sheriff’s office for its acknowledged destruction of records in a lawsuit that accuses deputies of racially profiling countless Hispanics in immigration patrols.
Sheriff Arpaio has issued thirteen immigration and crime sweeps starting in 2008 and consisting of deputies and posse volunteers that converge on areas – some in Latino areas – to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders.
District Court Judge G. Murray Snow has ordered sanctions in the big Melendres v. Arpaio racial profiling lawsuit still ongoing in federal court. The sanction addresses in a very measured way the systematic destruction of documents by members of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, even after all documents pertaining to the planning and execution of Sheriff Arpaio’s notorious anti-immigrant sweeps were requested again and again by plaintiffs’ lawyers beginning July 21, 2008.
Sheriff Arpaio’s Chief Deputy David Hendershott was deposed February 18th, 2010 and testified under oath before the grand jury.
Deputy Chief David Hendershott runs the day-to-day operations of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office, and both men blame the agency’s troubles – including a U.S. Department of Justice civil-rights investigation announced last March – on a left-wing conspiracy among the White House, civil-rights organizations, attorneys and Valley media.
“I believe that the Obama administration has a political agenda that involves some form of either amnesty or something that does not comport or is not convenient to the current law,” Hendershott said. “The high-profile nature of the sheriff has become a concern, and therefore we are dealing with this.”
Meanwhile, the state’s legislature has been busy working on bills, some of which are an effort to fix the state’s budget crisis.
Here is a sample:
1.) The Arizona Senate voted to make it illegal to sell a weapon at gun shows without verifying that the purchaser is an American citizen.
2.) Saying the minority must be tolerant of the majority; Republicans who control the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to require that a copy of the Ten Commandments be erected in front of the old state Capitol.
3.) Republican Frank Antenori has submitted a bill that would limit the items a person on welfare could buy with their own money. Persons on welfare would not be allowed to buy expensive items like TV’s over $300.00, have cars worth more than $5,000 and can’t buy alcohol and cigarettes. Welfare recipients would be allowed to purchase basic cable, though, and citizens would be needed to monitor people on welfare using food stamps and reporting abuse. Neighbors would be asked to report neighbors on abuse.
4.) State lawmakers are moving to make couples who have decided their marriage isn’t working to wait four months longer to divorce. Those with children would first have to go through education programs telling them about alternatives to divorce and the resources available to improve or strengthen their marriage. Critics fear for women in abusive relationships being forced to remain married to a man that could potentially kill them before a divorce is granted. Also, requiring couples to pay for two counseling classes creates undue financial burdens.
5.) A House panel has voted to allow Arizonans to make their own guns and bullets and offer them for sale without having to comply with federal regulations. Arizona has also passed bills allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons without permits including into restaurants that serve alcohol and bars.
6.) Without debate, the Senate approved a measure that gives police more power to stop and arrest those they believe are in the country illegally. The police and Sheriff Joe’s deputies would have the power to stop anyone without due cause and demand proof of citizenship and if a person fails to comply, they can be arrested. (wonder if a cop might use this against gays or any others they find as undesirable)
7.) The House voted to allow Arizonans the right to buy guns without the government knowing, but only if the weapons are manufactured in the state. Lawmakers gave preliminary approval to legislation that would say that Arizona-made firearms and ammunition are subject only to state laws. HB 2307 would specifically exempt these items from any federal regulation, including registration.
8.) The legislature has approved a measure for a 1-cent increase in sales tax to be sent to the voters in May.
9.) Close down all of the state’s juvenile detention centers and release them back into their communities.
10.) Eliminate KidsCare, which provides health insurance for 47,000 children from families with incomes up to twice the federal poverty level.
11.) Close state funded institutions that house severely mentally handicapped people and sends them back to their communities.
12.) If President Obama runs for re-election he would need to produce proof of both his U.S. birth and citizenship and the secretary of state would need to verify, independently, that the information is accurate to get on the ballot in Arizona under a measure being pushed by a state legislator.
13.) The governor’s budget plan has eliminated funding for training medical students, freezing or reducing rates paid to health providers, and cutting an estimated 310,000 low-income adults from the state’s Medicaid rolls. DHS will provide fewer services to Arizonans with substance abuse problems; reduce funding for Alzheimer’s research and end a lunch program that serves 13,700 seniors.
14.) The governor has signed legislation that cuts taxes on corporations by 28% and eliminates corporate property taxes, which places the burden on Arizona homeowners to make up the 940 million-dollar annual loss in revenue.