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Thursday
Dec152011

Justice Department: Sheriff Joe Arpaio Violated Federal Law

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, "has engaged in a pattern or practice of misconduct that violates the Constitution and federal law," according to a new report from the federal government.

“[The Maricopa County Sherriff's Office] is broken in a number of critical respects,” said Tom Perez, who heads the U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division. “The problems are deeply rooted in MCSO's culture and are compounded by MCSO's penchant for retaliation against people who speak out against them.”

Perez said Thursday the sheriff's office performed immigration "sweeps,” searching for illegal immigrants -- gathering up Latinos who had not committed crimes.

“MCSO engages in racial profiling of Latinos and unlawfully stops, detains and arrests Latinos all in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments,” Perez said.

“We found that MCSO unlawfully retaliates against people who criticize its policies and practices, in violation of the First Amendment,” said Perez, who added, “we found reasonable cause to believe that MCSO operates its jails in a manner that discriminates against Latino inmates who are limited English proficient.”

For years Arpaio has been under fire for his tactics, which he’s defended.

Thursday’s news is the result of a three-year investigation. Arpaio has several weeks to decide if he'll work out an agreement or be sued.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio