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Feds seek to end retaliation settlement involving Arpaio

May 10, 2019

PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking to end a nearly 4-year-old settlement in a civil rights lawsuit that alleged then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio had a pattern of retaliating against his critics.

Lawyers for the Justice Department and Arpaio’s successor, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, asked a federal judge in a filing Thursday to end the settlement because the agency has complied with a requirement that it establish policies barring retaliation and inform its employees of the new rules.

The retaliation allegations stemmed from political and legal disputes from 2006 through 2010 in which Arpaio and then-County Attorney Andrew Thomas squared off against county officials and judges over cuts to agency budgets, a plan to build a new court complex and other issues. Some officials who were at odds with Arpaio were criminally investigated by the sheriff and prosecutor.

Arpaio and Thomas lost most of the key battles. Their public corruption investigations against officials and judges collapsed in court, including criminal charges that were filed — but quickly dismissed — against two county officials and a judge.

Maricopa County agreed to pay $8.7 million to settle lawsuits with people who said they were investigated on trumped-up allegations. Arpaio, who would go on to be defeated by Penzone in late 2016, contended he was trying to root out corruption in county government.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit is separate from another civil rights case in which sheriff’s officers were found to have racially profiled Latinos in Arpaio’s traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.

The sheriff’s office remains under court supervision in the profile case. The legal and compliance costs for taxpayers in the profiling case are projected to reach nearly $150 million by the summer of 2020.

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