The Maricopa County, Az., Board of Supervisors approved a $3.5 million legal settlement with former Supervisor Don Stapley, ending a long and public legal standoff, the Arizona Republic reports. The decision — with the $3.75 million settlement of a lawsuit by Phoenix New Times founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin — marked a symbolic end to the legal battles fought by political targets of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas and their deputies in a crusade to root out what they claimed was government corruption among county leaders.
The agreements bring the taxpayer bill to more than $17 million for settlements and legal costs related to maneuvers by Arpaio and Thomas. All 10 plaintiffs who eventually settled legal disputes with the county claimed Arpaio, Thomas and their deputies wrongfully targeted them in retaliation for court rulings and budget cuts. “I look at all the things we could do in the county with the amount of money we're spending today, and I'm disappointed that's how I have to use the taxpayers' money,” said County Manager Tom Manos. The settlement bill does not include tangential costs the county incurred defending itself, elected officials and other employees against lawsuits, investigations and legal claims related to the actions of Thomas, Arpaio and their deputies. Adding those makes the total at least $24.9 million as of April 2012.