Entries in Maricopa County Sheriff (3)


DOJ Breaks Off Negotiations With Defiant Sheriff Joe Arpaio

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department has cut off negotiations with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and officials with the Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff’s Office in its effort to install an independent monitor to rein in the unconstitutional tactics used by officers there.

Arpaio, who calls himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” defied the Justice Department suggestion that it could sue the county and the sheriff’s office to force the issue.

“I am the constitutionally and legitimately elected Sheriff and I absolutely refuse to surrender my responsibility to the federal government,” he said in a letter the Justice Department Tuesday. “And so to the Obama administration, who is attempting to strong arm me into submission only for its political gain, I say, ‘This will not happen, not on my watch!’”

In December, the Justice Department released findings in its investigation of Arpaio’s office, noting there were significant civil rights violations, including the use of excessive force, and other systemic problems.

The Justice Department said in a letter to Arpaio’s attorney Friday that despite the sheriff’s office acknowledging the need for an independent judicial monitor to oversee reforms, “MCSO has now walked back from its agreement.”

“DOJ considers the oversight of an independent monitor to be an absolute necessity for meaningful and sustainable reform of MCSO,” Roy Austin, the Civil Rights Division’s deputy assistant attorney general, wrote to Arpaio’s attorney.

“It was disappointing, to say the least, for you to contact us 24 hours before our negotiations were scheduled to continue and raise for the first time, a precondition that you understood would result in the cancellation of negotiations,” he wrote.

“We believe that you are wasting time and not negotiating in good faith,” he wrote. “Your tactics have required DOJ to squander valuable time and resources. The violations of the Constitution and federal law identified in our December 15 letter have not been meaningfully addressed and continue to negatively impact the lives of all Maricopa County residents.”

According to the letter, representatives from the MCSO also canceled a meeting at the last minute on Feb. 27 and took more than two weeks to reschedule the meeting with the Justice Department.

In recent weeks, the sheriff’s office has apparently been claiming it needs additional information from the Justice Department in order to reach a settlement.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has been investigating Arpaio’s office since June 2008.  There is also an ongoing criminal investigation into officials at the sheriff’s office.

In the letter sent Tuesday, the Justice Department said it is moving closer to suing the county and sheriff’s office in federal court, in an effort to implement the federal monitor.

The sheriff’s office said in response that appointing an outside monitor “usurps the powers and duties of an elected sheriff and transfers them to a person or group of persons selected by the federal government … nullifying the authority of the elected Sheriff and eviscerating the will of the citizens of Maricopa County.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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


Did Wife Frame Husband for Arizona Cold Case Murders?

Photo Courtesy - Arizona State Corrections(PHOENIX) -- Ron Kempfert spent most of his life believing his father was a murderer. He said it was his mother who often fueled this horrible image of the man he called Dad.

"He's a murderer, he's a manipulator, he uses people, and that he didn't care about us, only cared about himself," Kempfert said his mother would tell him and his two brothers, Scott and Steve, when they were younger.

His father, Bill Macumber, who had no history of violence, was convicted in the 1970s in one of the most sensational murder cases in the history of Arizona. Macumber was sentenced to life in prison for killing Joyce Sterrenberg and Tim McKillop, both 20 years old, and leaving their bodies in the desert.

On May 24, 1962, the young couple was found shot and killed next to their car in an area now near Scottsdale, Ariz. The case went cold for 12 years until Macumber's wife, Carol Kempfert, went into the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office department where she worked and told her supervisors that her husband had confessed to the murders. Macumber was arrested a week later.

In 1975, Kempfert testified against her ex-husband, again saying that he confessed. The Arizona Republic reported that during the trial, two pieces of evidence allegedly had been collected by investigators at the scene and were also presented: a lifted palm print and bullet casings. At the time, prosecutors argued that the physical evidence linked Macumber to the murder scene.

Macumber was convicted of double homicide and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Ron Kempfert, now 42, had no doubt of his father's conviction, until he spoke with a prominent Phoenix defense attorney named Larry Hammond over the phone in 2003, 28 years after his father has been sent to jail. Hammond runs the Arizona Justice Project, an organization that works to free prisoners they decide could be innocent.

"He said 'I don't know how to tell you this, there is no way to tell you this -- we know your father, we think your father is innocent and we're pretty sure your mom framed him for it,'" Kempfert said of the phone call with Hammond.

After recovering from the initial shock, Kempfert started to untangle what his mother, Carol, had told him over the years and slowly the possibility that his father was innocent began to make sense.

"I love my mother but I don't like her. She is not a nice person and I did not make that jump immediately," he said. "I don't have any doubt anymore that my mom did it -- that my mom framed my dad for the murders."

Kempfert added he eventually came to believe that his mother had a powerful motive. Around the time she turned her husband into police, Carol and Macumber's marriage was falling apart. At the time, Carol was working in the sheriff's office, where she had access to evidence from the cold case murder, and she had recently taken classes in lifting fingerprints. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio