Pinal Co. Supervisor calls for investigation of Sheriff Babeu

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by Crystal Cruz

azfamily.com

Posted on February 21, 2012 at 6:43 PM

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. -- Pinal County Supervisor Pete Rios said his office has been busy.

“There is, I would say a public outcry,” said Rios.

Rios, a Democrat, said he's answered a flood of phone calls and emails from constituents wanting answers about Republican Sheriff Paul Babeu.

“The questions come down to this? Did the sheriff abuse his power and authority? Did the sheriff threaten this individual,” said Rios.

To answer that, Rios wants an investigation and Babeu's resignation. 

As it turns out, the sheriff wants an investigation himself and sent a letter to the Gila County Attorney's Office asking for them to look into his ex-boyfriend, 34-year-old Jose Orozco's claims he threatened to deport him, if he spoke about their relationship.

The sheriff later told 3TV Gila County told him they don't have the resources to investigate, instead Babeu said Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne told him his office will investigate.

“We're up for it. As an agency we have nothing to hide. Like the sheriff has said a lot of this has to do with when he was a private citizen,” said sheriff’s spokesman Elias Johnson.

Babeu's camp said Rios's motivation is political.

“We feel that this was coming from Mr. Rios to ask the sheriff to resign but it’s without merit. We've asked Pete Rios to step down because of alleged criminal behavior, he hasn't done so and the sheriff's not about to do so. Its business as usual in Pinal County,” said Elias.

But today, fueling the fire, another revelation from Rios that last year he said he got a call from Babeu's own sister.

“She has indicated to me that she fears for her life because of her brother and threats that he has made against her,” said Rios.

“The fact that Pete Rios is bringing in family members of Sheriff Babeu that he does not know is insensitive and insulting and quite frankly not my place to comment on the sheriff's family,” said Johnson.

Even though Rios said he would call for an investigation into threats being made by all public official's, the supervisor says he didn't look into Babeu's sister's allegations, because it was sibling rivalry. 

"It's a family issue, when one is here in Arizona and the other is in 1800 hundred miles removed. The threat cannot be as serious because the brother is here and the sister is in Massachusetts," said Rios.

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