PHOENIX - Federal prosecutors closed an exhaustive four-year FBI criminal investigation and grand-jury probe targeting Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas and their top deputies, saying there will be no indictments.
Ann Birmingham Scheel, acting on behalf of U.S. Attorney John Leonardo, announced the decision in a three-paragraph news release distributed at 5 p.m. Friday. Neither she nor anyone else from the office was available to comment.
However, in a letter to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Scheel listed the allegations that were investigated -- civil-rights violations, misuse of public money, perjury -- and said prosecution was declined because of a lack of evidence or an insurmountable burden of proof.
Arpaio, a Republican who is running for a sixth term in November, said he anticipated the outcome: "I never had any doubt. … Once again, I send my appreciation to the federal government for their hard work in clearing my office. "If I did something wrong, there would be indictments floating all over the place," Arpaio said.
Andrew Thomas, who resigned as county attorney and was later disbarred for ethical misconduct, issued a written statement saying, "The Justice Department acknowledged the obvious: A jury of citizens simply would not indict a prosecutor who had done his job. … The real losers in the political witch hunt that just ended are the people of Arizona. Prosecutors no longer attempt to fight corruption or illegal immigration in Arizona because they fear being targeted and disbarred."
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