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Lawsuit by Thomas, Arpaio against board is tossed

A Maricopa County judge has dismissed a lawsuit by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas against the Board of Supervisors.

Both objected to a move by the board to transfer $24 million to the state to balance the budget.

Thomas and Arpaio fought the transfer of cash and viewed the ”sweeps” as vindictive on the part of the board.

Thomas, Arpaio and the supervisors have been locked in multiple legal battles since last December, when Thomas’ office filed more than 100 criminal charges against Supervisor Don Stapley, based on an investigation into his financial disclosure forms by Arpaio’s office.

Thomas and Arpaio alleged in their court complaint the county was serving as the custodian of those funds, since they were designated for special purposes, and could not be used outside of those purposes.

The disputed funds ranged from criminal-justice related money, to money intended to improve the welfare of inmates.

County supervisors and budget officials said the board was given one-time legislative authority to lift restrictions on those funds to make required payments to help balance the state’s budget.

Judge Andrew Klein ruled the board acted ”appropriately, legally and reasonably.”

County Manager David Smith called the lawsuit ”a waste of time, and money and energy.”

”This is the third judge that’s ruled against Thomas or Arpaio since January on these cases (against the board),” Smith said.

”They’re trying to thwart the board’s policy initiatives through lawsuits and legal mechanisms when their job is law enforcement. I still say it’s all because they’re so unhappy with the budget and financial situation that they’ve whipped out this strategy that’s taken them nowhere.”

Maricopa County Deputy Chief Sheriff Jack MacIntyre declined comment on the ruling.

County Attorney spokesman Barnett Lotstein said the office is reviewing the decision and may appeal.

”We think that the transfer of the monies was inappropriate.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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