Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been the right-wing poster boy for tough law enforcement. Subjecting his prisoners to spoiled food, tent villages in scorching heat, pink underwear, and then launching criminal investigations against public officials who challenged him just added to his “Walking Tall,” tough-cop credentials among his backers. He also is the moving force behind Arizona’s tough anti-immigration law backing Governor Jan Brewer in her “Show Me Ze Papers” campaign against Mexican immigrants. Now it seems the worm has turned, and Maricopa County officials are wondering why Arpaio needs to keep two sets of books.
A hidden database located on a secure computer in the Sheriff’s Office details staff assignments and payments at odds with those provided to County auditors. The information was disclosed in another lawsuit concerning alleged racial profiling by Sheriff’s deputies. According to the Arizona Republic, “County administrators believe the Sheriff’s Office intentionally misappropriated as much as $80 million designated for jail operations over five years to pay employees working in patrol, human-smuggling operations and investigative units. Those employees should have been paid with other funds, but county officials suspect the Sheriff’s Office tried to maintain staffing levels by using money that legally was inaccessible.” Through a spokesman, Arpaio defends the discovery as “….confusion on a lack of compatible technology between the Sheriff’s Office and other county agencies.”
The local U.S. Attorney and Maricopa County attorneys are working together to deputize federal prosecutors to man the probe, a unusual step to say the least. According to County officials, Arizona statutes involving “… misappropriation of restricted funds; stealing, destroying, altering or secreting public records; malfeasance in public office; theft; and tampering with computers and public records” may come into play.
Funny how the smallest lures catch the biggest fish sometimes.
Source: Arizona Republic
–Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger