- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s top managers won’t face discipline for failing to halt the lawman’s signature immigration patrols after a judge in a racial profiling case had ordered them stopped, according to newly released records.

The documents show the results of an administrative investigation launched by Arpaio’s office to determine who was responsible for letting the patrols continue for about 18 months after U.S. District Judge Murray Snow had barred them. The documents were released Tuesday.

Arpaio, who wasn’t a target of the examination, told an investigator that he learned of Snow’s December 2011 order several months after it was issued, even though the decision was the subject of several stories that appeared in local media at the time.

The sheriff and four aides are undergoing contempt-of-court hearings for failing to carry out the order. Arpaio and his second-in-command, Jerry Sheridan, have acknowledged this and other contempt allegations.

Contempt hearings that began in April are scheduled to resume in late September. The hearings could lead to fines, increased oversight of the agency and a possible criminal contempt hearing for the sheriff.

Arpaio’s office also released records from internal investigations of officers accused of civil rights violations during traffic stops and using profanity toward arrested people. The documents, however, shed little light on a claim that sheriff’s deputies regularly pocketed items confiscated in traffic stops and safe-house busts.

During a Feb. 24 interview with an investigator, Arpaio was asked about the violation of Snow’s 2011 order. The sheriff said he doesn’t get involved in the details of legal cases against him and instead delegates those duties to others. The sheriff said he wasn’t briefed on the facts of the case, though he believes it’s possible he could have had a passing conversation with someone about it.

The sheriff was asked about a tense encounter with Sgt. Brett Palmer about a month after the 2011 order was issued in which federal immigration authorities had refused to accept immigrants who hadn’t committed a violation of state law.

Palmer said Arpaio wanted the immigrants held until the sheriff and media could arrive before being handed over to the Border Patrol. Palmer told the investigator that he told the sheriff that doing so would violate the order.

Arpaio said he wanted to publicize that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had refused to accept the immigrants. “It wasn’t telling them to violate any judge’s order,” Arpaio said.

Sheridan said he was focused on other issues at the time Snow issued his order and regrets not focusing on the profiling case sooner.

Sheridan said he became aware of the court order during a March 2014 deposition in another civil rights case. “Somebody should have grabbed me from the face and said, Jerry, wait a second,” Sheridan told the investigator. “Pay attention to this. This is important.”

The internal-investigation records center largely on Deputy Charley Armendariz, who was arrested in May 2014 after investigators found a stash of drugs, evidence bags from old cases and hundreds of IDs belonging to other people inside his home. Days later, Armendariz hanged himself.

His arrest led to a broader internal investigation into the pocketing allegation. Arpaio’s office hasn’t publicly provided details on the origins of the items found in Armendariz’s house and whether other officers are connected to those possessions.

In one of the internal investigations, Armendariz is accused of violating a driver’s civil rights in a March 2013 traffic stop by handcuffing her and then posing incriminating questions without providing a warning that she had the right to remain silent.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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