No Charges for Arpaio's Office in Questionable Travel and Inmate Fund Expenses, U.S. Attorney's Office Decides

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Dennis Burke has reviewed questionable practices at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in regards to an inmate trust fund and travel expenses -- and concluded that nothing illegal occurred.

Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke can't find any chargeable offenses after a review of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office's questionable travel habits and mismanagement of an inmate trust fund.

Because the U.S. Attorney is still investigating Arpaio in connection with abuse-of-power allegations, and the sheriff's office still faces a civil-rights probe, it's possible that Burke could announce someday that he's moving forward with legal action. However, this is the second letter since June from Burke's office that describes what the feds won't do about Arpaio.

In an October letter to Burke, County Manager David Smith outlined several areas that he thought should be explored for potential criminal charges. As we reported two months ago, Burke informed Smith that he wouldn't be pressing charges against Arpaio's office over the allegations of "exorbitant" inmate extradition costs.

Now, in a letter dated today, Burke has told Smith he couldn't find any evidence that any state or federal laws were broken in the handling of inmate funds or travel expenses.

As with the extradition accusation, Burke makes it clear that he thinks something funny is going on under Arpaio's leadership -- but that he can't do a darned thing about it.

The latest letter refers first to an inmate trust account that's supposed to only be used for the "education and welfare" of inmates under the law, to include the running of an inmate store. Inmate and their family members contribute money to these accounts. Any cash the inmate has on him or her when booked in goes into the kitty, and they're supposed to get it back when they check out.

Burke's office says the account was poorly managed. Not all of the money entrusted to MCSO was deposited as should have been. Shortfalls occurred, and money refunded to outgoing inmates was taken from "whatever cash happened to be available at the MCSO jail," some of which belonged to other inmates. Starting in 2006, jail staff withdrew $1,500 a week from the trust account, mainly to use for change.

In 2008, when MCSO realized their system wasn't working that well, officials began taking $35,000 a week from the trust account to ensure that all outgoing inmates would be refunded. Officials told federal investigators that the increase in withdrawals was needed because many more inmates were being released. Burke's agents found that claim lacked credibility.

But nothing seems to have risen to the level of prosecutable criminal behavior.

"It appears that the trust monies received by MCSO are mostly accounted for, and there is no evidence that anyone at MCSO embezzled monies for their personal benefit," Burke states in the letter.

Burke's office also reviewed an audit of MCSO travel expenses, which were already found by the Board of Supervisors to have violated county policy. Burke's letter states that no potential criminal violations were found there, either.

Suspicious, questionable, irresponsible and unethical behavior, yes.
But illegal, no.

8 15 11 Ltr to David Smith


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18 comments
Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

It'll be a clean sweep for Arpaio.  No charges, ever.    I'll bet the populace votes him back in office again, too.    Psychopaths rule the world, no more good guys in office.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Apayoso was in the DEA.  He was called nickel bag Joe because he always busted the low level employees of the drug businesses.  He garnered a LOT of intelligence about the community that way.  That means he knows about the skeletons in the closet at most all the law enforcement bureaus in the nation as at one time or another a LEO may have a "less than savory" contact with a low level drug business employee.  I'm sure Apayoso shook the information out about the contacts and activities of LEOs the drug business employees he busted came in contact with.  He took notes and the other people in the "business" knew it.  They might not know what he has on them but they think that he has something.  Being that old, he probably is scaring people who are quite high up in the law enforcement community.  These people, like Arpayoso, are like made men in the mafia, no one is supposed to touch them lest they get their old notes out of archive and look you up.  That's how the FBI Director that dressed in women's clothing did it.

Ross
Ross

In the classic movie African Queen, Humphrey Bogart tells Katherine Hepburn "It's easier to kill a hippo with a rifle than a shotgun." 

Well, maybe not, but federal prosecutors learned their lesson from the Blagojevich trial.  Don't confuse the jury with thousands of facts.  Focus on the worst behavior and send the defendant to prison for three crimes, not thirty. 

This letter is really good news.  If they were going to clear the Arpaio Mafia of all crimes, they would have done it by now.

Mistalee
Mistalee

"and the sheriff's office as a hold still faces a civil-rights probe"

As a hold? Ray, I don't know what that means.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Alternative headline and lede-

"Burke afflicted with testicular deficit disorder."

US attorney has barely enough huevos to go after potheads, nowhere near enough in his jockeys to serve up justice to ArPayaso."

Stacy
Stacy

If anything ... for these reasons alone, the voters should get rid of Arpaio.

teknik1200
teknik1200

BUT SOMEONES HAS TO GETS THOSE ILLEGALS!!!!1111!!1!!!1ONE11!!!!!!

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Attorneys in AZ are often suspended (you would not know it if you think Aubuchon and Thomas) for violations of retainer trust account standards.  As I read the letter from Burke, I know that if AARPaio was an attorney in private practice and had managed retainer trust accounts with the same acumen, he would be at least suspended.  Along the same line, the voters should suspend AARPaio for a long time. 

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Gerry, you make a very good point. However, if I am correct, the bar sanctions you suggest would be a civil action, not criminal. In this case I would think it very difficult to actually find and prove criminal intent. Not that the abuses of taxpayer money were ethically correct, but they weren't criminal.

The criminal sits in the office assigned to the MCSO sheriff.

He is the one charged with running a moral, ethical, and law abiding agency.

But, his posture is simply, "I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing, for I am the Shurf".

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

You are right Tommy that what I refer to is civil rather than criminal.  My point is that the Shurf can't even be trusted to handle small amounts of money for inmate accounts.  How can we expect to trust him with more than a quarter-billion dollars of our money for his annual budget.  We have seen financial games with the Jail Enhancement Funds and now we see games with the inmate trust accounts. 

It is a shame that one could not suspend or revoke a POST certification for such financial issues that reflect on a person's trustworthiness which to some of us is a big deal in law enforcement.  Of course, AARPaio does not even have a POST cert to pull.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

You said a ton, Stacy. Now, if we can get the voters to listen to reality instead of manufactured mishmash from the MCSO press releases..

Stacy
Stacy

This is our mission... our cause.. our campaign.   We'll get the message out.

Rurubean
Rurubean

I have heard from numerous people that Arpaio is actually black mailing people higher up..but no one can ever say who.

Ed Novak's name has come up more then once, has anyone else heard anything along those lines??

helentroy4
helentroy4

Based SOLELY or Arpaio's actions (because you'll never hear the words), every elected public official who has gone up against him has suffered from being smeared. Opponents for office and those already elected are all afraid of that knock at the door at midnight. All it takes is having a sheriff's posse member park their car in front of your house to send the message.

It's one thing to hang someone on their words alone; it's quite another thing to correctly predict their future behaviors based upon their past behaviors.

All these chickenshits who have danced around him will all pile on together beating their chests and telling us all how they stood up against him AFTER he's safely in jail or dead. And the public will oooh and aaaah at their 'bravery.'

Until then, people will continue to die, the taxpayers will be screwed out of the over a billion dollars gone missing, and there will never be a proper investigation into Arpaio's and his minions' effect on Honduran politics. After he can't affect their political careers, we'll all hear how 'brave' they were. One ol' political pile on.

It's disgusting. But, hey, as Burke says, it's legal. One more chicken shit who's holding his nose and protecting his balls.

Rollem45
Rollem45

Well, it is now obvious that Burke will be running for a future Arizona office and is looking for an endorsement. Reminds me of Napolitano and her time as a DA of Arizona. 

Jason
Jason

Seems to me Burke is afraid to actually prosecute the Flaccid Fool of MCSO for any crime.

This is the second time the MCSO shurf has gotten away with abuse of taxpayer money.

Note to Burke: Actually do your job and prosecute this stupid old man already. I don't know what it is you are afraid of.  Joke has abused the taxpayers long enough.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Jason, in this case I'm afraid I have to agree with Mr. Burke, based on what I have seen in the travel expenditure documents I've been provided. That said, however, there are very likely many documents (receipts and such) that are 'missing' (shredded), thus creating the gray area of criminal intent.

In this case there seems to be a very fine line between criminal intent and intentionally stupid civil negligence.

If the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors doesn't push MCSO to take corrective action all of those practices will continue, and likely are to this very day.

As the shurf said when interviewed by The New Yorker writer, "I know how far I can go and I always stop just short of the line (I will assume 'of criminality')".

With pearce effectively neutered I don't think the MCSO shurf is a real threat to Mr. Burke.

Just my thoughts.

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