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Justice Department plans to sue sheriff Arpaio

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

Federal authorities say they intend to file a lawsuit against Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and his department over allegations of civil rights violations.

The U.S. Justice Department sent a letter dated Wednesday to lawyers for the Maricopa County sheriff, giving his office “notice of intent to file civil action.”

Arpaio’s office has been accused of racially profiling Latinos, basing immigration patrols on racially-charged citizen complaints that didn’t allege crimes and punishing Hispanic jail inmates for speaking Spanish.

The DOJ also has accused Arpaio of having a culture of disregard for basic constitutional rights.

Arpaio has denied allegations of systematic discriminatory policing and has insisted the Justice Department provide facts to prove its allegations.

The Justice Department said a 22-page letter that it sent Arpaio’s office in December provides those details.

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