Our View: The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office unilaterally went after County Supervisor Don Stapley again in a manner that appears vindictive at best and could fall far short of the noble pursuit of justice.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office again tried to throw the book Monday at county Supervisor Don Stapley, but now Joe Arpaio is waiting for some prosecutor to take the new case before a judge.
The lack of immediate support for one of the country's most prominent lawmen is a strong suggestion that the sheriff's office made a significant mistake in rushing to re-arrest Stapley - on the first business day after the Yavapai County Attorney's Office temporarily dismissed the most serious charges from the original investigation of Stapley. If nothing else, the sheriff's suspicious timing taints the credibility of 100 new criminal allegations of possible bank fraud and misuse of donated funds.
As Tribune writer Gary Grado reported this week, Arpaio said the investigation behind the new accusations started in January and concluded on Sept. 11. In this kind of political corruption case, the typical approach would be for sheriff's detectives to coordinate with a prosecutor to take the evidence before a grand jury or to seek a direct indictment.
That's certainly what happened when Stapley was first arrested last year, as Arpaio's office worked hand in hand with Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, and the two officials jointly made an announcement when Stapley was indicted on 118 counts in December.
But that prosecution escalated county political infighting and launched a messy series of civil lawsuits pitting his office and Arpaio against the entire county Board of Supervisors. Those clashes are why the original Stapley case was transferred in April to Yavapai County.
The Yavapai County Attorney's office hasn't jumped at Arpaio's request to file dozens of new charges. That's not too surprising, as the earlier set of allegations now hangs precariously on the question of whether Stapley violated a county financial disclosure law that a judge ruled never was properly adopted. That prosecutor dismissed many of the criminal charges, for now, so he can focus on winning his appeal to reverse that ruling.
However, the sheriff didn't want any clouds of suspicion that hover over Stapley to dissipate. So his office unilaterally went after Stapley again in a manner that appears vindictive at best and could fall far short of the noble pursuit of justice.