Joe Arpaio Target of FBI Probe, Says Channel 5 in Report to Air Thursday

CBS 5's tantalizing promo for their Thursday report

Set the DVR this Thursday night for KPHO CBS 5's 10 p.m. newscast, which will feature an eight minute mini-documentary on Sheriff Joe's abuses of power while in office. The award-winning team of producer Gilbert Zermeno and reporter Morgan Loew boasts sources showing that the FBI is talking to folks about Arpaio's vendettas against his critics and political opponents. They'll lay out the result of their year-long investigation in Thursday's broadcast.

"Speak out against Sheriff Joe and end up with deputies investigating your life," says CBS 5's promo for the report. "It's happened to the mayor of Phoenix, police chiefs, judges, journalists and others. Coincidence? Or is America's toughest sheriff breaking the law? The FBI wants to know."

Zermeno says CBS 5 traveled to Washington, DC to get the opinion of a well-known former federal prosecutor as to whether or not Sheriff Joe should do the perp walk. According to Zermeno, the ex-U.S. Attorney is someone "who doesn't have a dog in this fight." CBS 5 specifically had him analyze the various cases they know the feds are investigating.

The segment will include a recounting of the middle-of-the-night arrests by plain-clothes MCSO deputies of New Times' founders, Village Voice Executive Editor Michael Lacey, and Village Voice CEO Jim Larkin. Charges of revealing grand jury secrets against the pair were tossed by County Attorney Andrew Thomas less than 24 hours after the arrests, due to the overwhelming criticism of his office's involvement in the scandal.

The CBS 5 piece will also spotlight an interview done with former New Times staff writer John Dougherty, his 2004 investigation into Arpaio's land holdings, and the fact that he was later targeted by the sheriff's office for retaliation. The MCSO even tried to claim, lamely, that Dougherty was somehow a threat to the sheriff for asking questions of him and seeking public records on his real estate ventures.

The MCSO's obsession with John Dougherty, who now freelances for the New York Times as well as other outlets, was documented at length by veteran New Times journalist Paul Rubin in his March 2008 cover story "Head on a Skewer."

I'm looking forward to the KPHO segment. Eight minutes is a long time to block off in the world of TV journalism, and the Zermeno-Loew team has garnered an Emmy for investigative reporting and a Regional Edward R. Murrow award. All of which means we're likely in for a power-packed eight minutes of TV journalism.

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