Arpaio attends dedication of new Maricopa County court tower

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- He once called it a "symbol of corruption," but on Tuesday Sheriff Joe Arpaio called Maricopa County's new court tower "beautiful."

The $340 million state-of-the-art building was dedicated Tuesday with retired U.S Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor doing the honors.

Two years ago, the court tower, which will be fully occupied by the end of the month, was at the center of a heated controversy involving Arpaio, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas and various county officials.

Thomas named four sitting judges in a civil racketeering suit and indicted county Supervisor Don Stapley and Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe on corruption charges in connection with construction of the court tower.

Arrpaio was invited to speak by current supervisors chairman Max Wilson. Arapio was deserving of the invitation, he said, given his status as the duly elected sheriff.

A frequent critic of Arpaio, Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox expressed some apprehension at what the sheriff might say. But in the end, Arpaio congratulated the board on construction of the tower that came in on schedule and under budget.

Thomas did not attend.