Feds End Probe of ‘America’s Toughest Sheriff’ Joe Arpaio; No Charges

MSNBC, August 31, 2012

The federal government has closed a criminal probe of alleged financial misconduct by Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio, who styles himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” and no charges will be filed, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said on Friday.

A separate federal investigation relating to allegations of civil rights abuses by Arpaio’s office is continuing.

The announcement on Friday marked the end of an investigation that began in November 2010 at the behest of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to examine alleged financial improprieties by the county sheriff and his deputies.

A federal criminal inquiry into several of those matters was concluded last summer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona declining to initiate criminal charges.

Maricopa County authorities were informed on Friday that federal prosecutors had likewise declined to bring charges in connection with allegations that the sheriff’s office had misused county credit cards or misspent money from jail facilities excise taxes.

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Arpaio, 80, who is seeking re-election to a sixth term as sheriff in November, has been under a separate federal inquiry since 2008 over allegations that he and his deputies engaged in an extensive pattern of civil rights abuses.

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Also in July, Arpaio denied in testimony in a class-action lawsuit that his deputies targeted people because of the color of their skin.

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Arpaio is also known for outfitting county jail inmates in pink underwear, claiming the pink shorts are less likely to be smuggled out of jail and sold on the black market, and for housing inmates in a Tent City jail in Phoenix, even when Sonoran Desert summer temperatures soar to 115 degrees.

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