Judge issues stern warning to Arpaio's office

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- A judge presiding over a racial profiling case against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office warned Thursday that he would get a court-appointed official to examine allegations of wrongdoing by officers if the agency doesn't adequately investigate.

The warning from U.S. District Judge Murray Snow came after the judge has expressed frustrations in recent months for the way Arpaio's office has investigated allegations that a former sheriff's deputy was shaking down immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Snow said he will have Robert Warshaw, who is monitoring the agency on the judge's behalf, investigate any allegations that he feels the sheriff's office isn't examining in good faith. "I am not going to be tolerant anymore," Snow told Arpaio's lead attorney.

Warshaw, a former police chief, has said his team of police professionals has never seen more unprofessional interviews than those conducted by Arpaio's employees who are running the investigation. Warshaw said the interviews were replete with apologetic treatment of those being interviewed.

More than a year ago, Snow ruled Arpaio's office had systematically racially profiled Latinos in its regular traffic and immigration patrols. Arpaio denies that his officers have racially profiled people and has appealed the decision. The judge is requiring Arpaio's office to video-record traffic stops, collect data on stops and conduct additional training to ensure officers aren't making unconstitutional stops.

The sheriff's office is conducting an investigation of shake-down allegations against former Deputy Ramon Charley Armendariz, who was arrested in May after investigators found items belonging to others and bags of evidence at his home.

Armendariz implicated former colleagues on Arpaio's immigrant smuggling squad, quit his job and later killed himself. Armendariz is relevant to the profiling case because he was a witness at the case's 2012 trial and videos of his traffic stops were discovered after his arrest.

Snow said Warshaw, who is monitoring the investigations into Armendariz and other officers, won't conduct his own investigation if the judge determines Arpaio's office is acting in good faith. But if the agency commits abuses or doesn't act in good faith during the investigations, Warshaw can undertake his own investigation, Snow said.

Tim Casey, an attorney representing Arpaio's office, objected to the judge calling in officers to a Dec. 4 hearing for questioning, saying more time is needed for the officers to get lawyers.

The judge said he will ensure the officers have legal representation.

Arpaio wasn't in court for Thursday's hearing.

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