Monday, January 27, 2014

Sheriff Joe Arpaio has cost Phoenix Taxpayers $49 Million dollars

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A political feud among county officials in metro Phoenix that led to a spate of costly lawsuits and unsuccessful public corruption investigations against some participants in the disputes has cost taxpayers at least $49 million.

County officials on Monday released the nearly final price tag for the disputes that mired county government from 2006 through 2010 when Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and then-County Attorney Andrew Thomas squared off against county officials and judges.

The disputes centered on cuts to agency budgets, a plan to build a new court building complex and other issues.

Arpaio and Thomas lost most of the key battles.

"I was unjustly prosecuted," said Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor who was one of the people targeted by Arpaio and Thomas.

"[I was] hit with 44 felony counts and I was cleared of everything. But it was hell," she continued.

Monday, documents obtained by CBS 5 News shows that $49 million in taxpayer money was spent on litigation costs and other settlements.

"No one was ever prosecuted. None of the cases stood. Everything fell apart. It was political vindictiveness," said Wilcox.

CBS 5 News reached out to Thomas by phone and through email. He never responded. Arpaio, however, released this statement:

"My office is only a small piece of the county's past internal disputes.  I am glad those difficult days are behind us."  

Arpaio and Thomas loomed large in many of the disputes, but other officials also took part in power struggles that, in some instances, didn't involve the sheriff or prosecutor.