Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio filed a federal racketeering lawsuit Dec. 2 against a group of county administrators, elected officials, judges and attorneys.
The suit accused the defendants of participating in a wide-ranging conspiracy to hinder an investigation into the $341 million criminal court tower under construction in downtown Phoenix and the ongoing investigation of county Supervisor Don Stapley.
It comes on the heels of the Board of Supervisors’ refusal to approve contracts for a pair of high-profile attorneys from Washington to continue the investigation into Stapley.
Stapley was indicted in November 2008 on 118 counts alleging omissions and misstatements on his financial-disclosure forms during a 14-year period. The case fell apart in August when it was discovered that the county had never properly implemented rules regarding financial disclosure.
Thomas and Arpaio name all five members of the Board of Supervisors as defendants along with County Manager David Smith, Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson, four current or former judges, the director of Maricopa County’s civil-litigation division, two private attorneys and a law firm.
The suit claims that county administrators conspired to deprive Arpaio of his right to legal representation from the County Attorney’s Office when the county created a civil-litigation division, and in the process, took $6 million and staff members from Thomas’ office to create the new division.
It also alleges that county judges conspired with other defendants to funnel money into the criminal court tower project and that two attorneys representing the county and county administrators conspired with judges and other defendants to hinder the Stapley probe.
The suit requests triple the damages each defendant has caused the plaintiffs, costs and attorneys fees and enough money to restore the legal services Arpaio claims he lost when county administrators created the civil-litigation division.
A statement issued Tuesday afternoon by the county supervisors called Arpaio’s and Thomas’ action “a sore loser’s lawsuit” and said the board “intends to vigorously defend against Thomas’ latest round of patently false allegations.”