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Arpaio to testify in Thomas disbarment trial

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is scheduled to take the stand Tuesday in former county attorney Andrew Thomas’ attorney disciplinary hearing.

Arpaio and Thomas worked arm in arm in charging county supervisors and a Superior Court judge with crimes in 2008 and 2009, cases that are at the heart of alleged ethical violations against Thomas and former deputy county attorney Lisa Aubuchon.

John Gleason, the attorney representing the Arizona State Bar, has alleged that it was Arpaio’s idea to charge Judge Gary Donahoe in December 2009 with crimes.

Yavapai County Attorney Shiela Polk is also scheduled to testify Tuesday and she has said in previous testimony in other proceedings that she had advised Arpaio in 2009 that a criminal case against County Supervisor Don Stapley had merit, but needed more investigation. She gave the advice as dozens of charges in a previous case against Stapley had been dismissed by the court.

She also advised Arpaio not to arrest Stapley because that would create a retaliation defense for him since most of the first case was dismissed.

Arpaio then made a high-profile arrest of Stapley a few days later and Polk, who had taken over the cases at Thomas’ request, sent a letter to a local newspaper, saying she couldn’t sit by and watch totalitarianism grow in Maricopa County at the hands of Thomas and Arpaio.

Jennifer Liewer, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Supreme Court, said Aubuchon may also begin testifying Tuesday if time permits.

Former deputy county attorney Rachel Alexander is also the subject of the discipline hearing, but for her role in working on a civil racketeering case alleging that four judges conspired with the Board of Supervisors to cover up investigations of Stapley and financing of a planned court tower.

The State Bar is seeking disbarment of Thomas and Aubuchon and suspension of Alexander.

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