Babeu cleared of criminal wrongdoing

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by Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Steve Ryan

Posted on August 31, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 31 at 5:40 PM

PHOENIX -- Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing following an investigation into whether he misused his authority in regard to a personal relationship.

Earlier this year, Babeu asked the Attorney General's Office to investigate claims made by his former boyfriend, Jose Orozco, who accused the sheriff of abuse of authority, threats and intimidation.

Orozco claimed Babeu threatened to deport him if their past relationship was made public.

Babeu accused Orozco of property and identity theft stemming from Orozco's handling of Babeu's websites and twitter accounts.

State Solicitor General Dave Cole oversaw the investigation to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest on the part of Attorney General Tom Horne. Horne and Babeu have been political allies.

According to Cole, a seven-month criminal investigation found that Babeu committed no criminal violations and no charges will be filed.

"The Attorney General's Office will not file charges against either Babeu or Orozco," Cole said. "The investigation determined that Babeu did not commit any criminal violations and further concluded that, although Orozco conducted himself in a manner that may constitute a violation of the law, there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction on anything more than a misdemeanor charge. It would be an inappropriate use of already-limited resources to prosecute Orozco for a misdemeanor."

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Babeu said, "I knew how this would end, because I knew the truth, yet I had to prove my innocence. Today, I'm fully cleared of these false attacks designed to ruin me. Some in the media worked their agenda hard to prove me guilty, regardless of the facts. In America, everyone is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, yet I had to prove my innocence. The 400,000 citizens that I serve saw through these election year attacks and media sensationalism. The fact that I'm gay doesn't matter. I want to be judged by the value I add to my community, by my performance and results. We won 42% more votes than my closest opponent in the republican primary. The people who know me best, know we've done an exceptional job as Sheriff and that these allegations were false."

Babeu dropped out of the race for Congress in May and announced he would seek re-election.  

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