Friday, September 28, 2007

Court Rejects Attorney General’s Request For Gag Order

from the County Attorney's Office -

Upholds Sheriff’s Demand for Access to Documents in Bribery Investigation

A Superior Court ruling has cleared the way for sheriff’s investigators to gain access to documents at the Attorney General’s Office needed for an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of bribery, County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced today. The ruling also denies the Attorney General’s request for a gag order relating to the public disclosure of the Attorney General’s attempts to delay the investigation and improperly control access to witnesses and documents.

For more than six months, investigators working for Sheriff Joe Arpaio have been trying to determine whether former State Treasurer David Petersen received a favorable criminal plea deal in return for the Treasurer’s Office agreement to transfer $1.9 million dollars in disputed funds to the Attorney General’s Office in 2006. Notwithstanding Attorney General Terry Goddard’s public pledge of full cooperation, he has hired a criminal defense attorney, Ed Novak, with taxpayer funds, and Novak has thrown up numerous legal obstacles in the way of investigators.

“We are pleased the walls are finally starting to come down and investigators can get to the task at hand,” said County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

In addition to denying the gag order, the ruling by Judge Anna Baca affirms the sheriff’s right to obtain public records from the Attorney General’s Office. Judge Baca also dismissed the Attorney General’s claims that Arpaio, Thomas and prosecutor Barnett Lotstein had violated grand jury secrecy rules. This motion by Novak was essentially a request for a gag order to keep a lid on the investigation regarding the Attorney General’s Office.

“I am rather disappointed with the Attorney General’s Office stonewalling our investigation; however we intend to pursue our investigation in a professional manner.” Said Sheriff Joe Arpiao.

“Now that the courts have opened the doors, we call on the Attorney General to cooperate fully so that we can get to the bottom of these bribery allegations,” Thomas said.

For more information contact:
Mike Anthony Scerbo, Public Information Officer
(602) 506-3170 (office) or (602) 489-6913 (cell)

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