Thursday, January 7, 2010, 9:41pm MST
A federal grand jury in Phoenix is looking at abuse of power allegations against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
County Communications Director Cari Gerchick told the Phoenix Business Journal Thursday night that County Manager David Smith and County Budget Director Sandi Smith have met with federal prosecutors and will appear before a federal grand jury in Phoenix on Jan. 13.
Gerchick said the grand jury is looking at abuse of power charges against the MCSO and Arpaio. Sandra Raynor, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix declined comment.
"I have no comment as grand jury proceedings are secret and I can neither confirm or deny their existence," Raynor said in an e-mail to the Business Journal.
MCSO spokesman Brian Lee said Arpaio declined to comment about the grand jury and would continue his duties as Sheriff as usual. Arpaio's critics contend his office harasses and conducts investigations against those who oppose his immigration and other get-tough policies.
The Sheriff teamed with County Attorney Andrew Thomas to indict County Supervisors Mary Rose Wilcox and Don Stapley and has investigated other county officials.
The U.S. Justice Department has been conducting a civil rights investigation of the MCSO's immigration and crime sweeps to see if they unfairly target Hispanics. The Sheiff has also repeatedly denied wrongdoing on that front.
The abuse of power investigation and grand jury is separate from that civil rights inquiry.
Phoenix Business Journal
Unbelievable! Two thugs from the New Black Panthers can stand in the door way of a polling place, intimidating voters with their clubs, and the Obama administration sees no need to prosecute them.
Yet, let a duly elected law officer perform his duty in upholding the law and the Obama administration launches a federal Grand Jury Probe.