Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio may still be going through court battles over racial profiling, but he is off the hook in another case in which a photographer accused him of making a deal with a counterfeiter.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear a case alleging Arpaio of not charging a felon in exchange for 3,000 counterfeit posters of a moment captured just before game one of the 2001 World Series.
The photographer, David Kelly, took a picture at the 2001 World Series that shows members of the Phoenix Fire Department on the playing field of Chase Field – then known as Bank One Ballpark – raising a flag from the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks, an image Kelly said was later stolen by Raymond Young.
Young, who claimed to be “as an upstanding, former Major League Baseball player who knew a lot of people and had many connections in professional baseball and among sports memorabilia dealers,” convinced Kelly, who worked under the name Big League Photos, to let him be a distributor of the photo.
According to Kelly’s complaint, Young “commenced to orchestrate a colossal scheme of distributing, for financial gain and at the Plaintiff’s expense, massive amounts of the counterfeit Copyrighted Posters to over 100 vendors throughout the country.”
Kelly said in the court documents that the vendors made “millions of dollars” using his property. Kelly sued Young in 2006, and was granted $1.125 million for Young’s breach of contract, according to the documents.
But Kelly claims that three years before the lawsuit he contacted Arpaio’s office and they refused to investigate Kelly’s claims.
Kelly argues in the documents that “Mr. Young and Defendant Arpaio agreed that Mr. Young would donate 3,000 copies of the counterfeit Copyrighted Posters to the MCSO in exchange for Defendant Arpaio’s continuing to refrain from arresting Mr. Young for his state and federal criminal conduct.”
He defends this claim with a picture of Arpaio and Young holding up a poster of the photo from the World Series game. Kelly also said he had a “chance encounter” with Arpaio in 2013, and Arpaio admitted to selling the 3,000 copies and said he would “make it up to you somehow.”
The courts have ruled against Kelly. In December 2017, District Court Judge G. Murray Snow, the same judge who ordered Arpaio to stop racially profiling, said Kelly’s arguments raised “no genuine issues for trial concerning any of the alleged infringement occurring after December 2012.”
Snow said in the ruling that because Kelly filed in 2015, and the statute of limitations for copyright infringement is three years, all of his claims before December 2012 could not be tried in court.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Snow’s ruling that Kelly’s claims prior to 2012 were past the statute of limitations for copyright infringement, and his claims after 2012 did not raise substantial issues.