Arpaio's lawyers pan critique of investigations

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Ramon Armendariz By Catherine Holland Ramon Armendariz By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office says a court-appointed official's critique of the agency's investigation into alleged wrongdoing by some of its officers contains mischaracterizations.

Arpaio's lawyers say in court papers Tuesday that the report alleges investigators failed to act on information provided to them while they examined shakedown allegations against a former deputy. It also says supervisors of the deputy, whose arrest led to the investigations, didn't take appropriate action against him.

The report has not been released to the public.

The lawyers say the document unfairly suggested the sheriff's department wasn't investigating allegations in good faith, and that the criticism centers on the fact that no criminal charges have been filed against officers.

"Such a conclusion, especially given the genesis of this particular investigation, presumes the guilt of MCSO deputies," the attorneys wrote.

The critique was made by Robert Warshaw, who was appointed to monitor the agency by a judge who ruled Arpaio's officers have racially profiled Latinos in its patrols.

The judge asked Warshaw to investigate allegations against a witness in the profiling case, now-deceased deputy Ramon Charley Armendariz. Nearly a year after the profiling trial, Armendariz was accused of shaking down immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Armendariz was arrested five months ago after investigators found driver's licenses, wallets belonging to other people, bags of evidence and more than 100 license plates at his Phoenix home.

Another discovery at Armendariz's home involved an estimated 900 hours of videos taken from cameras mounted on his eyeglasses and dashboard that were supposed to be turned over in the profiling case.

Armendariz told investigators he was innocent, and he implicated former colleagues on Arpaio's immigrant smuggling squad. After his arrest, Armendariz resigned and was later found dead in his home in a suicide by hanging, officials say.

Warshaw's report on the investigation into Armendariz's allegations hasn't been publicly released.

The sheriff's office has repeatedly denied requests by The Associated Press for updates on the investigations, and investigative reports and related documents sought through public records requests haven't been released.

The attorneys who pressed the racial profiling case against Arpaio's office filed a response to Warshaw's report, but that filing is under a court seal. The American Civil Liberties Union, the driving force behind the profiling case, declined to comment on the filing by Arpaio's lawyers.

The sheriff's office says in its latest filing that nearly 9,000 videos taken by officers during the course of their work have been collected in the investigation. It says the videos have generated 39 internal investigations.

Arpaio's lawyers said Warshaw's criticism underscores the monitor's misunderstanding about the distinction between investigations that examine criminal allegations and those that focus on policy violations.

The sheriff's office also said the monitor alleged that Armendariz's supervisors failed to take administrative action against him. Arpaio's lawyers said it already has an administrative investigation into the matter.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ordered that a copy of Warshaw's report be sent to county and federal prosecutors. He set a Tuesday hearing to discuss the critique.

Arpaio's attorneys have asked the judge to close discussions of the Armendariz investigations, while opposing lawyers said they should be open to the public.

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