Federal prosecutors closed an exhaustive four-year FBI criminal investigation and grand-jury probe targeting Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas and their top deputies, saying there will be no indictments, reports the Arizona Republic. Ann Birmingham Scheel, acting on behalf of U.S. Attorney John Leonardo, announced the decision in a three-paragraph news release distributed at 5 p.m. Friday, as the holiday weekend began. Neither she nor anyone else from the office was available to comment.
However, in a letter to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Scheel listed the allegations that were investigated — civil-rights violations, misuse of public money, perjury — and said prosecution was declined because of a lack of evidence or an insurmountable burden of proof. Arpaio, a Republican who is running for a sixth term in November, said he anticipated the outcome: “I never had any doubt.” The newspaper said that in recent months, it had become increasingly apparent within the legal and law-enforcement communities that criminal charges likely would not come out of an investigation that began four years ago under President George W. Bush and spanned the tenures of several Arizona U.S. attorneys.